Lewis Hamilton has hit out at the penalty awarded to him in Sunday's French Grand Prix - his second in as many races - and has responded to media suggestions that he is letting the glamorous side to life as a Formula 1 driver take his eye off the ball.

The McLaren-Mercedes ace has endured a turbulent and controversy-dogged second season in the top flight following his breathtaking maiden campaign in 2007, with the weight of a nation's expectations now firmly resting upon his shoulders, having to battle against a superior adversary in Ferrari and seeing a number of significant errors creep into his driving.

The most costly of those has undoubtedly been his pit-lane misdemeanour in Montreal, when he ran into the back of chief title rival Kimi Raikkonen during the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago, consequently seeing him fail to score in the last two races and slip down from the head of the championship table to fourth position.

After being forced to take a ten-place grid demotion at Magny-Cours by way of punishment for that mistake, Hamilton went on to produce a scrappy showing in the race, attacking too aggressively too soon in his desperate efforts to make up ground early on and indeed nudging the back of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in the opening stages.

He would subsequently earn himself a second - contentious - penalty for having been deemed to have gained an advantage when he shot briefly off the road after overtaking Sebastien Vettel in the Scuderia Toro Rosso on the opening lap, ultimately crossing the finish line a frustrated and point-less tenth. He remains adamant, however, that he could not have done any more.

"I did everything I needed to do," the Briton stressed. "I stayed out of trouble, drove what I thought was a fair race [and] just missed the points. That's two races without scoring points, but there are still ten races to go.

"I had quite a good start, [but with] four people abreast in front of me I decided to take it easy. I got a few [cars] in turn five and someone (Vettel) going into turn seven. I was ahead but I lost the back end and corrected it and went over the kerb, which I don't see as cheating. Rules are rules, [but] I don't think I did anything [wrong].

"I went into the corner believing I was ahead on the outside, and couldn't turn-in on the guy otherwise we would have crashed, so I took a wider line. Then I lost the back on the marbles and went over the kerb and continued. I don't believe I overtook him by going over the kerb. I overtook him before that, as a result [of which] I was forced wide."

Despite having endured his third failure to score from the first eight races of a season that many had tipped would be his, Hamilton is insistent he is not succumbing to the public and media pressure - with his 2007 love affair with the notoriously fickle tabloids now but a very distant memory - and nor to all the 'extra-curricular' incentives that go hand-in-hand with being one of the fastest racing drivers in the world.

There have been numerous suggestions that the 23-year-old has let his focus drift after being seduced by the sport's myriad glamorous temptations, amidst appearances at glitzy film premieres and suggestions that at one point earlier this year he was dating either actress and singer Dannii Minogue, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger or Miss World runner-up Vivian Burkhardt - or possibly even all three at the same time. It was also - incorrectly - claimed in the Magny-Cours paddock that he had blown ?200,000 on a personalised number plate.

"I can take constructive criticism, but I don't read any of it," British newspapers quote the Stevenage-born star as having underlined. "You hear about [the media reports], but what difference should that make to me, because I am doing my job and I am enjoying myself.

"There's not really a lot I can do about it. I'm just not into that sort of thing. I really want to enjoy it, but I don't have to be walking down a red carpet. I've never wanted that sort of treatment.

"I have experienced it in some places, but I'm not looking for events to go to so I can be seen. I just enjoy being sat in the back like any other member of the audience. I like to meet people, but then people start making stories out of it.

"It does not affect my life in any way, shape or form. Sure, the opinion you end up giving people does affect you because at the end of the day I am not a mean guy and I am out there doing the best job that I can.

"Small mistakes happen. I am sure that everyone makes similar mistakes to those I do, but you're not in the spotlight like me.

"People try and make me something that I'm not, but the majority of the time - 99.9 per cent of the time - it's only my dad's opinion that matters."

Preferring to turn his attentions ahead rather than reflect on issues passed, Hamilton is confident of being able to bounce back on home turf at Silverstone in just under a fortnight's time [see separate story - click here], after setting pole position for his first British Grand Prix this time twelve months ago only to go the wrong way on strategy in the race and eventually take the chequered flag third.

"I absolutely 100 per cent aim on bouncing back there," he urged. "Regardless of what's written in the papers I will go back to the workshop, push with the team, focus on the next race and hit 'em hard.

"Racing is racing and I'm going to keep battling. I don't care how far I am behind. Kimi [Raikkonen] was 17 points behind with two races to go [last year] and he still won it. If I'm 20 points behind I don't care - I will still come back.

"I feel cool. It's all good, I'm still here [and] there's nothing you can do to get me out of it. There is nothing you can do that can distract me. You can keep on giving me penalties, whatever you want to do. I will keep battling and try to come back with a result."