Hamilton experiences first turbulence on meteoric rise

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The Independent Online

Had Lewis Hamilton won the World Championship, perhaps there would not have been the backlash that he has experienced from some quarters. Instead, the man who won four races, finished second by a point to Kimi Raikkonen and beat his former world champion team-mate, Fernando Alonso, has found his life minutely dissected of late.

The primary focus has been his intention to move to Switzerland. It is precisely the same move that Sir Jackie Stewart, whom Hamilton most resembles in his manner and track craft, made back in the late Sixties. Hamilton's problem is that he has quietly explained it as a consequence of intrusions into his private life, while displaying an engaging naïvety about the tax issue that is also an understandable part of any move.

"For me the move is not a tax issue," he said, adding: "I didn't mention the tax thing because I was advised to ignore that and not even focus on it. In my heart my real home is my parents' house where I grew up. But you can't live at home all your life."

Hamilton's book, Lewis Hamilton, My Story (HarperCollins, £18.99), focuses on how he got to this point, and is an engaging, honest read. Nor is it spiteful, though he does not pull puncheswhen the situation merits candour. Now he is coping with another new situation, where he is no longer universally feted.

He was terrified of potential audience reaction at the recent National Television Awards, where he made a presentation to Jeremy Clarkson, but received a resounding cheer. "I was nervous," he said. "I had never met Jeremy before though I'd watched Top Gear for years, and I had to make a speech. Fortunately, Jeremy [did] all the talking." That gentle humour, and a steely resolve to return even stronger in 2008, will see him through what is merely a bit of turbulence in his jet-powered rise.