Having become the new darling of British sport, Lewis Hamilton has announced that he is to move abroad in an effort to escape the increased public and media attention he has faced since breaking into Formula 1.

Hamilton came agonisingly close to becoming the first rookie World Champion in the history of the sport, eventually finishing the 2007 campaign just one point behind Kimi Raikkonen and level with his McLaren team-mate - and double title winner - Fernando Alonso.

However, Hamilton's success on track has come at a price, with the young Briton having become one of the most recognisable faces in the press; something the McLaren admits has played a big part in his decision to up sticks and move to Switzerland.

"When I was coming up I knew there were sacrifices you have to make," he told the BBC. "You lose your ability to go places - you don't understand what that means until you get there and you really struggle to lead a normal life.

"I haven't been able to spend much time with my friends or my family - it's not like a normal job, you're travelling all the time, you live out of your suitcase and it's tough to manage that and still live a normal life.

"When you come home and everybody knows you, it makes it so much harder to do normal things. I can't go to the cinema. I go to the bathroom in a petrol station and people come in there for autographs.

"Over there people don't come up to you, they leave you alone and give you space. I'm going to a country that I don't know but it's very exciting."

Hamilton will join Raikkonen, Alonso and multiple champion Michael Schumacher in moving to Switzerland, where the 22-year-old will also be able to take advantage of more favourable tax rules than those found in the UK.

The announcement comes just a day after the news that Hamilton's home town Stevenage will pay tribute to it's new star by naming a street after the McLaren man.