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Hamilton's frustration grows

NEWS STORY
23/06/2008

Whatever one feels about the drive-through meted out to Lewis Hamilton during yesterday's French GP, it is clear that the recipient of that penalty, young Lewis, is far from happy.

However, his reaction to the drive-through clearly indicates the youngster's growing frustration not only with events on track, but off track also.

The rules dictate that a driver is not allowed to gain an advantage by going off the track, and in the incident with Vettel he did. Had the incident taken place at Monaco, or any other track where the tarmac run off is replaced by a wall or tyre barrier he would have been out on the spot. However, perhaps it might have been far easier had McLaren and its driver simply opted to hand the position back to Vettel, rather than waiting for the stewards to make their own decision.

Following the race, Martin Whitmarsh had his own thoughts on the matter. "There was a discussion," he told reporters. "We noted that it had happened and we gave an opinion. The stewards had a different opinion.

"I think we have got to accept that the stewards have got a quieter time than us," he added, "and they have got more information. They also have got to make the decision that they think is right. We didn't see it like that, but we didn't have the information that they had."

However, Hamilton sees it differently, and is clearly taking it very personally.

"I did everything I needed to do," the English driver told reporters. "I stayed out of trouble, drove what I thought was a fair race, just missed the points. That's two races without scoring points but there are still 10 races to go.

Referring to the Vettel incident, he added: "I had quite a good start, four people abreast in front of me, so I decided to take it easy. I got a few in turn five and someone (Vettel) fairly 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. I don't think I did anything," he continued. "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 I was forced wide."

However, as the 2007 World Championship runner-up looks ahead to his home race at Silverstone, on the back of two races where he failed to score points, an element of paranoia appears to creep in.

"I absolutely 100 per cent aim on bouncing back there. 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 them hard.

"Racing is racing," he continues. "I'm going to keep battling. I don't care how far I am behind. Kimi was 17 points behind with two races to go (in 2007) and he still won it. If I'm 20 points behind I don't care, I will still come back.

"There is nothing you can do that can distract me," he says defiantly. You can keep on giving me penalties, whatever you want to do. I will keep battling and try to come back with a result."

Following the incident at Montreal, Hamilton, quite rightly, came in for some harsh criticism in the media, and clearly this has stung him. However, his failure to fully get to grips with the 2008 title fight, the move to Switzerland, speculation over his private life and ludicrous stories about how he is spending his money, are taking their toll. It was inevitable, that in time the media, having helped to build the legend, would want to bring the youngster back to earth (and reality) with a bang. And this hasn't gone unnoticed.

"I found out that there was a lot of negativity in the media, and that's to be expected," he told British F1 broadcaster ITV at the weekend. "That's what they do: they build you up and then they break you down, but they can't break me.

"I'm here to race," he added, "and I don't want all this stuff. But I'm very strong mentally, and my belief in my own ability is stronger than ever and there's nothing that can break me."

Thing is, the cracks, although small, are already starting to appear.

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