• McLaren driver takes a positive line on next season
• ‘I’ll look back on this season and say I needed that’
For Lewis Hamilton brave new dawns have too often turned out to be yet more dusks but there was an air of serenity about him here on Thursday as he arrived wearing a diamond-encrusted rosary given to him by his former girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger with whom, he said, he had been having reconciliatory meetings.
As he prepared for Sunday’s final grand prix of the season at the Interlagos circuit, where he won his world championship in 2008, the McLaren driver said: “This is almost like the first race of the season or at least this is the beginning of what’s to come.
“I was talking to a friend just recently, who is very wise, and I said it’s been a very difficult year. He said: ‘It’s not been a difficult year, it’s been a year of growth,’ which I thought was one of the most positive things I have learned this year. It really has been a year where I’ve just grown. I’ve learned a lot from it and I can take it to next year.
“So I feel positive about it and in the future I’ll look back on this season and smile and say: ‘I needed that.’ I feel I’m now absolutely prepared for the championship challenge next season, and for me the preparation for it starts from here. Next year is going to be an interesting one I think.”
As if this season had not been interesting enough. It has been marked by crashes with rivals and clashes with stewards and his mind, clearly, was in turmoil for most of the summer. But he drove thrillingly in South Korea last month and again in Abu Dhabi 11 days ago to record his third win of the season. “I am very happy to be here,” he said. “I’ve great memories of being here in the past. Actually she [Scherzinger] was here with me when I won the world championship.
“It is not that I feel different, it is the way I am approaching it. The new season starts here. I had a good race in Abu Dhabi with things going in the right direction, so it starts from now. I don’t have to wait for next season.”
Despite some recent negative pictures of himself with Scherzinger he said: “You didn’t catch us at the best of times. But what you didn’t see is that we had a really good week.
“We had a couple of really nice lunches together and that day we had a really nice dinner. Unfortunately you didn’t get any nice pictures of coming out of that. It is still very early days. We still have very, very strong feelings for each other and I still love her very much. Who knows, maybe we will be together in the future.”