Lewis Hamilton is too focused on the final grand prix of the season, in Brazil next weekend, to take any notice of the FIA's extraordinary insistence on putting a 'nanny' stewardin the McLaren pit to make sure that his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, gets equal treatment.
In a season in which the knife has firmly been stuck into the Anglo-German team as a matter of routine, the governing body's plan to ensure equality comes as the final insult, the resultof yet another petulant outburst from a champion who cannot cope with the fact that a rookie has come into his domain and beaten him. Those with memories long enough to remember how everybody turned a blind eye to the way Ferrari favoured Michael Schumacher over cannon fodder such as Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello find the situation offensive, given that even in the acrimonious days of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, McLaren have always been a team who have let their drivers race.
Carlos Garcia, the head of the Spanish motorsport federation, who has been invited to attend the race by McLaren's chief, Ron Dennis, told the Spanish newspaper AS: "The FIA will have a steward making sure that nothing wrong happens to Fernando, especially in qualifying, which is where there have been more complaints or strange situations in the last few grands prix.
"On 3 October I had a meeting with Max Mosley where I showed my concern over the situation that Fernando is going through, which is no secret, and he reassured me."
Garcia added that he expected fair play, "as there is a Ferrari driver behind and the British team have to fight against the red cars, not against their drivers. Fernando must be calm".
If anyone should be unhappy it is Hamilton, whose agonising slide into the gravel bed in the pit lane on the 31st lap of last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix – when he could have clinched the title – postponed the showdown until Brazil and threw Alonso and the race winner, Kimi Raikkonen, crucial lifelines. But he has taken thesetback on the chin.
"It was fairly straightforward; we made a joint decision to stay out on intermediate tyres," he says. "Kimi and Fernando had three or four laps' more fuel than me. I stopped first on lap 15, followed by Fer-nando on lap 18 and Kimi on lap 19. I was going faster and eating into my tyres. My mirrors were covered in mud and dirt. I couldn't see behind me. I couldn't see the condition of my tyres. I wasn't pushing, I knew the tyres were close to the end of their life; the rears were gone, they were down to the canvas. I could not see that but I could feel a big vibration. It was like driving on ice. I was off the dry line going into the pits on lap 31. I approached with caution but lost the back end, and got beached.
"It was not completely my fault, but it was unfortunate, as I was clearly the quickest. I wanted to win the race and things like that can happen."
Hamilton insists that he goes to Brazil, for the first time, aiming to win. "I will approach the race in the same way, to win it. Some part of my mind will be focused on the end result, winning the world championship not the race, but I go to win. I understand the position I'm in and what I have to do. I aim on finishing on the podium and know I can't take risks. Maybe I took a risk at the last race."
Far from whining in defeat, Hamilton is already fighting back, and the contrast between him and Alonso is indicative of why the rookie has so shaken the champion.
"I've got a lot of confidence in myself," Hamilton says. "It's got to be a hard hit knowing the championship was there and I didn't take it, but it's still there to win. In spite of having a non-finish in China I'm still in the lead and I've still got a good chance of winning, so I'm feeling pretty cool, as I'm in the best position to do that.
"I'm mentally stronger after the weekend in China. Some drivers would be on the back foot, but I've taken the negatives and made them into positives."
His attitude is totally reminiscent of his childhood idol, the late Ayrton Senna. Hamilton says that after the race he may visit the Brazilian legend's grave in Morumbi.
"That's definitely something I'd like to do. I'll find it emotional and moving to go there. I've not thought about going to see his grave, but I will think about visiting after the race. It's impor-tant I have a clear mind going into the weekend, and that would be too emot-ional to do before the race."Reuse content