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In the hot seat, but enjoying it too

Lewis Hamilton is enjoying every bit of the limelight, with just a fraction of it falling on teammate Kovalainen, reports Khurram Habib.
Hindustan Times | By Khurram Habib, Melbourne
UPDATED ON MAR 16, 2008 12:47 AM IST

There is everything here that separates the kid from the men, except that he is gliding in a make-believe world. Paparazzi, breathtakingly beautiful autograph hunters, and a celebrity status most will envy — that’s his dream world.

Most striking of it all is that careless laugh and the easy, royal, assuming manner in which he carries himself, perhaps because he is now the undisputed king of McLaren, with Fernando Alonso becoming history.

Lewis Hamilton is enjoying every bit of the limelight, with just a fraction of it falling on teammate Kovalainen. As he speaks, Hamilton is modesty personified.

“Well, both of us have to keep each other up. You have to be competitive and try and encourage the other driver. We are coping well and finding the right balance.”

The heat here is hard to bear and harder for the drivers who’ve burnt their fluids on the track. Despite that, there is that juvenile zest, at least in the way he talks and he intersperses it with gentle laughs. He is soft-spoken and one can hardly hear him from a distance.

The British here hound him and perhaps rightly so because they’ve finally got a potential world champion.

And he doesn’t look like disappointing them after his brilliant pole-winning effort on Saturday.

Despite what strategists might say — that he’s wasted that much of fuel for Sunday — there’s nothing better than being in the winning zone; it’s the best elixir to keep you in high spirits.

“Yeah, I am pretty confident and positive going into the season. We should be doing well. There are good teams and it’ll be tough.”

There’s no mention of former teammate Alonso, and he admits that Ferrari and McLaren are the best. Most agree so. “... (but) it’s going to be tough. We’ll try hard to get through the whole season on top.”

So what about the Melbourne heat? “I’ll take in a lot of fluids on Sunday (to keep myself going).”

And what about the changes for this season? “Yeah! I’m pretty pleased with the changes that have taken place (in the sport). (With) Traction control, the whole technology changes…I think it will be more challenging for the drivers. And that’s good.”

How the young driver copes with fame, only time will tell, but for now, he has every reason to enjoy the Melbourne heat.

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