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Hamilton releases the pressure

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F1 Mole | 12:31 UK time, Sunday, 7 June 2009

There has been a noticeable shift in Lewis Hamilton's mood this weekend at the Turkish Grand Prix.

The clouds have parted to reveal an occasional glimpse of the world champion's trademark smile back in place as he was spotted going about his paddock duties, jumping into cabs and hanging out with pals at his hotel.

It has been a troubled season for the 24-year-old and as a result he has been keeping a low profile.

For the first time in his racing career, from karting through to Formula 1, he finds himself grappling with an uncompetitive car.

lewis335.jpg

On top of that, Hamilton has had to deal with the fall-out from "lie-gate" where he admitted misleading race stewards under the guidance of his team at the Australian Grand Prix.

As David Coulthard pointed out in his BBC column in April: "Hamilton has had to cope with the swinging pendulum between mass public praise and then widespread criticism."

Tellingly, Hamilton's shift in attitude has coincided with his admission, at the seventh race of the season in Istanbul that his title defence is now out of reach.

The Englishman commented: "This is going to be a challenging year for us, obviously, but I have no doubts at all that next year we will bounce back."

The pressure valve, building up since the season began, has finally been released.

Hamilton revealed this weekend that he knew the car was not up to scratch the first time he drove it during a filming session for one of McLaren's sponsors - and that was before the first major test of 2009 in Portugal.

Now that the world champion is racing without the pressure of saving his season it will be pretty interesting to see how he performs free from the weight of expectation.

As for the man himself he says: "I think you grow from these things. It has definitely been a learning experience."

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