Lewis Hamilton admits Nicole split makes racing focus 'tough'

By Sarah HoltBBC Sport at the Buddh International Circuit
Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton broke Red Bull's stranglehold on pole in 2011 by securing top slot in Korea

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton says he is determined to stay focused on racing after his split with pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.

Since coming second at the last race in Korea, Hamilton has been coming to terms with the end of the relationship.

"I've been dealing with it on my own with great support from my family," said Hamilton at the Indian Grand Prix.

"It's very tough [but] I was still able to focus at the last race and I still have that attitude."

The 2008 world champion has kept the spotlight away from his personal life as he battled his way through what he describes as his "worst season in Formula 1".

But after a return to form in Korea, where he took McLaren's first pole of the season and hung on to second with a brilliant drive, it emerged that he and Scherzinger had ended their four-year relationship.

When asked if the split would affect him this weekend, he responded: "Well it was never in my way before.

"But when those kind of things in your life are good they have a great impact on your life - and that relationship did.

"I wouldn't say that I was in great spirits, it's been a tough couple of weeks and I don't think the last race did anything for me.

"It was good to get back on the podium but it's only one race - it's been a whole year of ups and downs. Hopefully with more races I'll begin to feel a boost."

The inaugural Indian Grand Prix presents Hamilton with a clean slate and another chance to target a third win of the season - something his team-mate Jenson Button achieved with victory in Japan.

The new Buddh International Circuit outside the capital Delhi has been designed by F1's favoured architect Hermann Tilke and is expected to provide an undulating, high-speed challenge.

"I walked the track and it looks pretty awesome," said Hamilton, who already has one advantage over his rivals as he is visiting India for the fifth time.

"There are lots of wide entries and there should be a lot of overtaking. It looks like a complete downforce circuit and seeing as we were really competitive in Suzuka, we should be competitive here.

"The energy I've got from the fans when I've come here is mesmerising so I hope that we have that same reaction this weekend."

Button, who ended his run of five podium places with fourth in Korea, has set his sights on returning to the top step in India.

"I want to win, I don't want to just be on the podium" said Button, who is second to Red Bull's double world champion Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings. "I won't be happy unless I win.

"We have a great car and if you look at Suzuka everything fell perfectly into place, Korea was the opposite of that, but more often than not it's been in our favour.

"I hope to get back on the top step, it's the aim this weekend, but first it's getting out there and learning the circuit.

"It's more of a Spa, Suzuka track than a Singapore and Korea circuit and we are as strong as Red Bull now on those types of circuits.

"It would be nice to win the first Indian Grand Prix. I'm looking forward to it."

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