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Lewis will be back, says Bernie

2011-11-05 09:04

MUTUAL ADMIRATION: McLaren driver Lewis Hamitlon and team boss Martin Whitmarsh - both are keen for two wins from the last two races of 2011.

Tim Collings

LONDON, England - Lewis Hamilton has been encouraged by F1's commercial ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone as he sets about re-building his confidence ahead of next weekend's 2011 Abu Dhabi GP.

Hamilton, after another disappointing race – in India a week earlier in which 26-year-old was involved in yet another incident with Ferrari's Felipe Massa - has been "recharging his batteries" and preparing to deliver a strong finish to a fairly wretched year.


"As a team, we have every reason to be confident for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix," he said. "The circuit should really suit the characteristics of our car and we should be able to capitalise on the layout.

"I am still determined to end the season on a high."

The recent break-up of his relationship with pop singer fiancée Nicole Scherzinger appeared to complete a picture of misery for the 2008 champion yet, despite his setbacks in a frenetic professional life and roller-coaster private life, he seemed this week to have emerged stronger and ready to regain some of his former self-confidence.

Red Bull's outstanding young German driver Sebastian Vettel, 24, may have led his team to a second successive title double but that has not prevented Hamilton being the most talked-about star in the F1 firmament.

This is recognised by Ecclestone, who needs a fully-firing Hamilton back on form to race Vettel for the title next year.

"In life you go through ups and downs - I think he’s just going through a bit of a rough period generally in his life," Ecclestone, who at 81 should know – said.

"When life is easy, you get lucky and everything goes well. When things start going wrong, they start piling up and going more wrong. He will get out of it. I spoke to him in India. He is great. I'm sure he will be OK."


In Abu Dhabi, in particular, Hamilton is hoping to make best use of his McLaren car's drag reduction and kinetic energy regeneration systems at the Yas Marina circuit.

"They are both very strong on our car," he said. "I have every reason to feel confident. Red Bull and Vettel may have clinched both championships but I'm still determined to end the season on a winning high.

"I've won two 2011 GP’s and I'd love to double that by the end of the year. It would also be a great reward for everybody at McLaren."

Team mate and fellow Briton Jenson Button is the last driver to have beaten Vettel (at October’s Japanese GP) and he was equally upbeat.

"The championship may not be at stake any more but we're still aiming to win races and put on a tremendous show," he said.

One man steering clear of Hamilton will be Massa. They’ve collided in six controversial incidents this year - a statistic Ecclestone laughed off as being merely coincidental.

"It’s not intentional, is it?" he explained. "These things happen. It’s just really strange that it always happens between those two."


McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh believed Hamilton's greatest disappointment this year may be his loss of status as the unbeatable man at McLaren thanks to a fine season from Button.

"If you're honest, the first driver you want to beat is your team mate," Whitmarsh said. "We don't hide from that and neither do Lewis or Jenson. They’re there to beat each other and Jenson's been on a run.

"Lewis, great driver that he is, doesn’t like being beaten by anyone, least of all by Jenson, even though outside the car they have a fantastic relationship.

"I want him to try to beat Jenson just as I want Jenson to beat Lewis. That's the way they work best to carry the team forwards."


Inside Wheels24

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