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Hamilton turnaround will be worth the wait: Burning rubber

Former F1 star David Coulthard, now a BBC TV pundit

Gulf News

The urgent need for Lewis Hamilton to turn his back on his glitzy celebrity lifestyle is paramount in his bid to recover his status as the world's best Formula One driver.

The pressure is being heaped on him from all quarters and right from the top in the shape of mastermind Bernie Ecclestone and by current and ex-drivers, all rightly concerned at the McLaren man's dramatic drop from the grand prix front ranks.

Few drivers, if any, attract as much attention, interest or opinion, for and against, as the 2008 champion, who last season plummeted to despair with wrangles on and off the track and frequent appearancs before the stewards for uncharacteristic blunders.

The blame was placed squarely on Hamilton's forays into the world of showbiz, accelerated by his romantic tie-up with pop singer Nicole Scherzinger and his mixing, across the Atlantic, with rockers and superstars.

Mercifully, it seems that the winter lay-off was used by Hamilton to re-assess his attitude and re-design his route back to where he and most others believe he belongs — at the top.

Maybe Ecclestone's words hit a chord when he said: "We need Lewis to be back where he was before he got himself all tangled up in the showbiz circuit nonsense and offloaded his father as his manager. That was a wrong move. For the good of our sport, for the show, we need Lewis to be back on the ball, doing what he does best — winning. And in style."

Time to reflect

Former F1 star David Coulthard, now a BBC TV pundit, agrees with F1's doyen. "McLaren appear to have given him a chunk of time off to go away and focus on what was not making him hot stuff last season," the Scotsman said. "We need an on-form Hamilton because he is one of the most exciting drivers out there. He has to come back all straightend out."

And that is precisely what the 27-year-old has vowed to do. Ahead of Sunday's 12,000-mile flight to Melbourne for next week's Australian Grand Prix opener, the £10-million-a-year ace was upbeat with a message for his worried fans and bosses alike. "I shall be at 100 per cent this season," he said. "There were times last year when I was juggling too many things... But now I am starting with a clean slate. I have fixed it all."