This is the most testing year of my career, says defiant Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton yesterday launched a powerful defence of himself and his management as he continues to battle through what he described as "the most testing year" of his career.

The Briton's words come as the fallout from the Singapore Grand Prix continues – Hamilton picked up his fifth drive-through penalty of the season there after a collision with Felipe Massa which in turn led to a post-race dispute with the Brazilian.

Massa took out his anger in subsequent TV interviews, while Hamilton's decision to snub the media raised questions about his management company, XIX Entertainment, from his father Anthony, who suggested their absence in Singapore meant they were failing to support his son in his time of need.

Hamilton is adamant he is coping and said: "I don't read anything so I don't feel any of the criticism. But I know everyone here [the media in the Suzuka paddock ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix] and around the world are writing stories, so I hear about them.

"I just live my life, I'm happy, I've great people in my life, I've great management, great family, people who I enjoy being around, I've an amazing job, so I can't really complain.

"Regardless of whether people are writing crap about me, I just keep my head and focus on the main thing, which is trying to win races."

Asked if he was simply enduring a torrid spell and the tide would naturally turn, Hamilton replied: "I don't have an answer for it. I don't see anybody else having the problems I'm having, but then I don't see many people that have achieved what I've achieved. Up until the end of 2008 I'd won a championship every second year of my career since I was eight years old. I've done pretty well up until now, but I've had a couple of tough years, with this year the most trying, testing year of my career.

"It's just the way it is. I'm not doing anything wrong and it's not my management like everyone is talking about," Hamilton added of Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment. "I'm very, very, very happy with my management. It [appointing them] is one of the best decisions I've ever made.

As for Massa, who tried to speak to Hamilton after the race in Marina Bay but received short shrift, he "will not go to him" to offer the hand of friendship. "I didn't do anything, to be honest, I just had a tyre punctured in my race so I have [no reason] to go and try to speak to him," Massa said with a hint of exasperation. "If he comes to speak to me, it's fine."