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Fri Oct 31 06:04:06 SAST 2014

I’ve become an easy target, says Hamilton

Alan Baldwin, Reuters | 09 September, 2011 07:26
McLaren Formula One driver Hamilton of Britain arrives in the paddock at the Monza circuit
McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain arrives in the paddock at the Monza circuit September 8, 2011 ahead of this weekend's Italian F1 grand prix
Image by: GIAMPIERO SPOSITO / REUTERS

Lewis Hamilton has had enough of being an ‘easy target’ for his Formula One critics. 

McLaren’s 2008 world champion said on Thursday that he was determined to bring back the good times, starting with Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, after the toughest season of his career.     

    A regular in the stewards’ room after a spate of crashes and controversies that have overshadowed some typically thrilling performances on the track, the Briton crashed out of the last race in Belgium.     

    That was his second retirement of the year and, as he recognised afterwards, he had only himself to blame.     

    “It’s just one of those years. I think everyone goes through tough times and I’m going through that,” he told Reuters.     

    “What can I say? It’s the way of life. Good times will come, and people will make less of the bad times.     

    “People always remember the bad times over the good times for some reason, but I’m here to try and put things right and have a much better weekend.”     

    Hamilton lasted less than a lap at Monza last year, after clashing with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa at the start, but the circuit has been a McLaren favourite over the years and he was second in his debut season of 2007.     

    The Briton has had plenty of incidents since his stellar debut in 2007 but this time has come in for more criticism — perhaps because his frustration has contrasted with world champion Sebastian Vettel’s cruise towards a second title.     

    “I guess I’m an easy target at the moment because I’m always in trouble,” Hamilton told reporters.     

    “Hopefully, at some stage, I’ll move away from that spotlight and I’ll be in a good light and people will only have good things to say.     

    “It feels like it’s been a worse year than I’ve had previously. But in 2008 there were some incidents there as well, but I guess because I won the championship they were forgotten.”             

    NEGATIVE STORIES     

    Using a golfing analogy, Hamilton — who plays off a handicap of 17 — said he wanted to at least ‘make par’ in those races where there was no chance of winning.     

    Monza might well be the McLaren and Ferrari drivers last real chance of hitting back at Vettel, whose 92 point lead with seven races remaining looks almost insurmountable.     

    The venerable circuit outside Milan has been held up by Red Bull as their weakest of the season, with its long and fast straights, but Hamilton made clear the championship had been pushed to the back of his mind.     

    “I’m not really focusing on that,” he said. “I’m trying to get back to having some good results so I can stop negative stories being written about me as well.     

    “I don’t read them,” he added. “I just hear there are pretty bad stories that have been written about me so I am thinking it would be good to give you guys something good to write about me.     

    “I will continue to drive the way I do. I just try my hardest to stay out of trouble. I’ll give people extra room when I overtake them.”     

    Hamilton clipped the wheel of Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi at Spa while trying to pass, a move that sent him careering into the barriers and that he later recognised had been his error.     

    He said he could recall nothing about the moment of impact and might have been knocked unconscious for a few seconds.     

    “I don’t remember the whole hitting the wall and then how I got to where I was. I remember trying to go into the corner and getting clipped but after that it’s a bit blurry,” he said.

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