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Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 14:39 UK

Hamilton refreshed for F1 climax

Japanese Grand Prix, Fuji
Race: Sunday at 0530 BST Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport website and ITV1; Re-run at 0800 and 1000 BST on 5 live sports extra
Qualifying: Saturday at 0600 BST Coverage: BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website and ITV1

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton says last year's stresses took their toll late in the season

Lewis Hamilton says he is in much better shape to mount a final charge for the F1 title than he was last year.

Hamilton fell just short in a debut season in which he feuded with then McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso.

"I definitely feel better than I did last year," said the Briton ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji.

"Going into the final few races (of 2007), we'd had all our energy drained away. I took each one as it came, and it was kind of blowing me away."

With three races to go this season, Hamilton leads Ferrari's Felipe Massa by seven points.

Last year, Kimi Raikkonen beat him to the drivers' crown by a single point as the stresses of a rollercoaster first F1 campaign caught up with him.

Hamilton told the BBC he has done things differently this year as the season reaches its climax.

"Last year, I stayed out (with the team) for the last three races pretty much the whole time.

"I didn't really take into consideration time at home for relaxing, being with my family, all those things. This year I've taken that a lot more into account.

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"I flew home after the Singapore GP, did some training, spent some time with my brother and my girlfriend then flew out to Japan. It was really the perfect preparation, and I feel fantastic."

With both he and Massa counting the cost of mistakes in recent races, Hamilton added that he was looking for an error-free climax to the season.

The wrong tyre choice in qualifying ruined his chances in the Italian GP, and victory in Belgium was taken from him after he cut a chicane to overtake Raikkonen.

"We're going to have great pace, it's making sure we don't mess up in qualifying, making sure we don't get caught out in the races," Hamilton said.

"Winning is always best, but it's really a important time of the season where you have to bag the points."

Brazil's Massa is also hoping for a blemish-free final three races after his refuelling fiasco in Singapore.

"Unfortunately, things have happened this season where we have lost important points," said the Brazilian.

"But I'm not the sort of guy who looks for someone to blame. If we win or we lose, we do it as a team, and we're working very hard to win the championship."

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see also
The man Hamilton must beat
09 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Ferrari revert to old pit system
07 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton sees benefits of caution
06 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton happy as F1 nears climax
29 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Ferrari furious over Singapore GP
30 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Alonso wins as Hamilton prospers
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton stripped of Belgian win
07 Sep 08 |  Formula One


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