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Hamilton: I’ve had my worst races of the year already 18 Apr 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GB), McLaren, McLaren Mercedes MP4-23, Bahrain Grand Prix 2008, Bahrain International Circuit, Manama, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008. © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images The damaged McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 of Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2008 Post qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren, third; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, pole position; Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1, second.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008

It is the curse of his unprecedented 2007 debut. Many drivers are lucky to win one Grand Prix in a lifetime. Now, if Lewis Hamilton doesn’t make the top three at every race, the media portray it as a disaster.

However, speaking exclusively to Formula1.com, the McLaren star says he's unfazed by the raised expectations, insisting that he's learnt from his Bahrain mistakes and that 15 podiums in the remaining 15 races are now very much on the agenda…

Q: Lewis, three races into the season and some pretty mixed results. What’s your take on it?
Lewis Hamilton:
I think it started off really well and then the next couple of races weren’t as great, which is a bit unfortunate but that is racing. There is still a long way to go, we saw last year how Kimi (Raikkonen) came from a long way back and that demonstrated how anything can happen. We have a good package and the team has been working very hard to make sure we continue to improve. I have learnt from my mistakes, and I have certainly not ruled out the opportunity to win this year.

Q: After your high-flying 2007 season you seemed almost destined for this year’s title. How disappointing is it that things are looking slightly different so far?
LH:
It is not disappointing. We just know where we have to do better. Of course last year I had nine podiums in the first nine races and that was fantastic. But then the end of the year wasn’t as strong. If I am in the situation now where I have had my worst races of the season already and they are followed-up by 15 consecutive podiums. That is my target and I would be very happy to achieve it!

Q: Bahrain was not one of your best moments - it seemed like a pretty jinxed weekend for you. How did you analyze your performance and what did you learn from it?
LH:
I learned quite a lot from it. I realized that when things go wrong at the beginning of the race I need to use damage limitation. I fell back to tenth and then tried to regain my positions early on and that was a big mistake. Also I will make sure what happened at the beginning of the race never happens again.

Q: Your public image has arguably taken its first little knock with headlines including phrases like ‘falling from grace’, etc. Are you surprised, or do feel it’s merely inevitable after your sensational rookie season?
LH:
I don’t really read the press coverage so it makes no difference to me.

Q: The MP4-23 seems to have let you down a bit. You and last year’s MP4-22 were a match made in heaven - this season it feels like you and the car are still getting to know each other…
LH:
I think we have a strong package like we did last year, perhaps it is not as good as the Ferrari’s currently. We have a quick car, for sure and I am pushing hard to get the most out of it. I don’t think there is a problem.

Q: During the pre-season tests here in Barcelona you were always very much on the pace. Now, with the latest upgrades to the car in place, will the start of the European season next week see you start to close the gap on the leaders again?
LH:
I don’t feel we have a huge amount of catching up to do, I am quite comfortable in my position. We need to be a little more fortunate and get some better finishing places. Also, we are not just relying on the upgrade package - we all need to do a better job and that is what we are doing as a team.

Q: Take a look into the crystal ball - based on the findings of this week’s test what could be in store for you and the team at next weekend’s race?
LH:
I would never look into a crystal ball, but I think we are going to have a solid weekend. Hopefully we will have a strong performance by me and Heikki (Kovalainen) and we will be challenging for a win.