Hamilton keen to improve on 'terrible' run

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton is burning with desire to step back onto the top step of the podium and help McLaren achieve "greatness" again.

Hamilton has so far endured a rollercoaster season that has resulted in frustration with the team's decision-making in Australia and Malaysia, a brush with the law Down Under, and a penultimate lap smash in Spain following a wheel-rim failure.

Despite claiming this season he is driving the best car McLaren have built for him, even better than his 2008 title-winner, victory continues to elude the far-from-happy 25-year-old.

For a driver so accustomed to taking the chequered flag in his first two seasons in Formula One, the last 18 months have been virtually barren by his high standards, as he has triumphed just twice in his last 24 grands prix.

It is a statistic that catches Hamilton by surprise when it is mentioned to him at McLaren's state-of-the-art Technology Centre in Woking at a promotional event for Vodafone's World of Difference programme, of which he is an ambassador.

"That's not good. That sounds terrible," Hamilton told Press Association Sport.

"There were 17 races last year, the majority of which were pretty poor because generally we had a bad car.

"This year I've been unfortunate, but this is racing. Lots of drivers go years and years without having a win or being on the podium.

"So I'm just grateful I've had some wins, and I know I'm in the early stages of my career, so hopefully I have many more to come."

Victory in Turkey in 11 days' time would certainly go some way to easing the unhappiness he is currently feeling as he readily concedes the first part of the season has been up and down.

"In terms of results it's not been a very good season for me so far. I'm not particularly happy with the results I've had, but it's been a learning experience," added Hamilton.

"I've had some great races, and it's great to know the car is competitive, as fast as some of the other guys.

"We at least have a good base to work from, and with 13 races left, there are plenty to win, and lots more points available.

"Apart from once in Spain, I've at least consistently scored points, which is a benefit. Even if you have a bad weekend and you only get one point, it could really help at the end of the year."

But it is the taste of victory again that matters most to Hamilton. He is aware the wait has been too long for a driver of his talent, and given the team behind him - one he knows is not living up to its status at present but which Hamilton remains confident will do.

"The desire to win is burning inside," insisted Hamilton.

"It's there the whole of the way through the season, even if you do have a win because you get that taste and you want to keep on getting it, so it's constantly burning.

"As a team we are also putting ourselves under extreme pressure, and we will continue to do so because that is how you achieve greatness. At least that's how I feel.

"I do feel we will get there. I reckon it's going to take a couple of races and then we will be back up there, back at the front."

Team-mate Jenson Button has at least savoured success in his debut campaign with McLaren this year, although he experienced heartbreak in Monaco on Sunday when he retired after two laps due to a simple mistake made by one member of the team.

That was when a cooling cover was left on a sidepod that covers the radiator, resulting in the engine overheating.

After Hamilton's unreliability in Barcelona, the team have let themselves down over the past two weekends, something Button is looking to be corrected in Turkey next week.

"I was happy before the last two races which were frustrating, especially Monaco with the problem I had," said Button.

"But to be leading into Monaco after five races with the team was not too bad, although I'm obviously not leading now.

"However, it's a lot easier to chase. It's a more difficult position when you're out in front because you're always looking behind to see where the others are coming from.

"But we're still in a good position, and we have a strong team here. Although we've had a couple of issues in the last two races, we have to put those behind us now and focus on the next one in Turkey.

"We've got to come with a stronger car, and we can't make any mistakes."