'Fans, not tax, drove me to Swiss exile' insists Hamilton

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The Independent Online

For somebody who has been pilloried in some quarters recently over his decision to emigrate to Switzerland, Lewis Hamilton was remarkably relaxed as he faced another media inquisition at his book launch in London yesterday.

Considering he did not read a word about his first grand prix victory, in Canada in June, it is perhaps unsurprising that he has been able to ignore some of the more spiteful comments about his forthcoming status not as a world champion but as a tax exile.

Hamilton's account of his dramatic first season in Formula One, Lewis Hamilton: My Story (HarperCollins), is the story "of my first year in the sport, not an autobiography" and a commendably warts and all account. Effectively, it is a genuine reflection of his character.

In the chapter dealing with the Hungarian Grand Prix, for example, and his spat with his McLaren team-mate, Fernando Alonso, and the team's principal Ron Dennis he does not pull his punches. "I didn't have the book written to slate anyone," he said. "But I wasn't going to hold back."

The account tallies with all the known facts and where necessary he is critical of Alonso. "I don't feel I was particularly hard on him," he insisted, "but I just told the truth as I saw it."

Dealing with the move to Switzerland, Hamilton, who lost the 2007 World Championship by one point, said: "It's a great feeling to spend as much time as possible with the fans but sometimes it gets too much.

"For me the move is not a tax issue. In my heart my real home is my parents' house where I grew up. But you can't live at home all your life, can you?"

He also reacted to recent allegations about his sportsmanship. "I think I am a good sportsman," he said. "I don't throw my toys out of the pram and I deal with events as best I can."