Hamilton almost quit F1 over 'Lie-Gate' UPDATE (GMM) As McLaren's difficult season hit a high point with fourth place in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton admitted he did consider throwing in the towel.
Amid scandals and public criticism, the reigning world champion said he recently paused seriously to reflect on his negative image.
"I wasn't 100 per cent sure I wanted to be here for the next five years," the Briton told the BBC.
"There was so much going on. Do I want to be in the limelight with people slating me? Do I want be in the spotlight where I can't even go to go to the fish and chip shop or the cinema and have fun without people taking pictures of me?"
Hamilton, 24, ultimately concluded that driving a F1 car to success was most important, and - despite admitting his earlier indecision - wonders why his commitment to the team was ever questioned.
"My commitment should never be questioned because I'm very committed to the sport and I'm very, very committed to my team," he insisted.
But Hamilton said his questionable commitment when addressing the media a week ago in China was "because I wasn't 100 per cent sure I would be here (in F1) for the next five years".
He said some of the shine of being a formula one driver is now completely gone.
"I love driving the car. I love my job. But when you're surrounded by politics and all these different things going on, you know ..." said Hamilton.
04/04/09 Lewis Hamilton was prepared to walk away from the sport over the controversy surrounding his evidence to the Australian Grand Prix race stewards last week.
|Lewis Hamilton claims the McLaren team coerced him into lying|
It has emerged that the British driver, who made an unprecedented public apology on Friday for his part in giving the race stewards a false account of an on-track incident with Jarno Trulli in Melbourne, contacted the sport governing body’s president Max Mosley as the controversy blew up. He expressed his frustration that he had been led by McLaren into falsely telling the stewards he had not been instructed to allow Trulli past and that he was so disenchanted he was considering leaving the team and the sport. It is believed Mosley advised the driver not to do this.
Shortly afterwards Hamilton and his father Anthony are believed to have demanded that McLaren allow the driver to hold his own press conference, in which he laid the blame fully on the team’s sporting director Dave Ryan, the man who accompanied him to the stewards’ meeting. Ryan has since been suspended by the team he has served since 1974. zzzz
Hamilton, inset, was allowed use of the FIA’s press conference room in Malaysia, something normally reserved for official FIA press conferences. Its use by a driver or team is unprecedented. This and the fact that the conference was attended by Mosley’s second in command Alan Donnelly has fuelled suggestions that Hamilton could have been granted some sort of amnesty against further action in exchange for “coming clean”. It is also believed that the team - which was fined a record $100 million by the FIA for alleged industrial espionage against rival Ferrari in 2007 - is likely to face further sanctions over this latest affair.
Newly promoted team boss Martin Whitmarsh refused to rule out his own resignation over the affair, saying: “We are not ruling anything in or out. At the moment we are keen to put our hands up and say it was a serious error of judgment.”
Pundits are seriously doubting whether the relationship between Hamilton and McLaren - the team that gave him his break as a 13 year old karter - can ever be the same.
This affair comes as the team struggles on track too. Lewis Hamilton yesterday qualified just 13th fastest of the 20 car Malaysian Grand Prix field. His fortunes are in stark contrast to those of Britain’s other F1 star Jenson Button, who will start his Brawn car from pole position, from where he hopes to repeat his Australian Grand Prix victory. London Times