Lewis Hamilton rejects Button pressure claim as 'rubbish'

By Sarah HoltBBC Sport at Yas Marina

Lewis Hamilton says claims by his McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh that his form has been affected by team-mate Jenson Button's success are "rubbish".

Whitmarsh said after the last race in India that the 2008 champion was "feeling under pressure" from Button, but Hamilton said that was not true.

"He made some comments which I disagree with," said Hamilton. "It's rubbish.

"My issues have been much, much bigger than that - more personal. Jenson doing great is great for the team."

Button has won three races this season, in comparison to Hamilton's two victories in China and Germany, and is 38 points ahead of Hamilton in the hunt for second in the championship.

Whitmarsh, who Hamilton suggested could have been "misquoted", made his comments at the last race in India, where Button finished second and Hamilton was seventh after another on-track clash with Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

The English team-mates have been reticent about talking about their internal team rivalry but, at the penultimate race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton spoke openly about why he believes Button has out-performed him so far.

"Jenson has done a great job to get things in the right place," said Hamilton, who recently split from his long-term girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and is no longer managed by his father Anthony.

"He's got his Dad, who's there at every single race, he's got his manager, he's got his friends and his girlfriend there all the time.

"He's got a great bubble around him and with that he's able to go out there and perform without any worries on his mind.

"He's in a much stronger position than me so I wouldn't expect anything less than the results he's been getting. But that's not affecting the way I'm performing. I've just been a bit unfortunate and I've got my own problems.

"I lost that bubble. It is a priority for me to create that atmosphere around myself because it's a happy bubble."

On the subject of his personal life, Hamilton added: "They affect everything you do, the things you say, the way you act, the groove you get into.

"It's not an excuse it's just the way things have gone. I feel quite confident that I know the right direction for next year and how I can get things better - it's just about doing it.

"I don't plan on being single for very long. It's nothing to do with being single or not being single. When I was in my relationship she was probably the most positive thing that was in my life - and maybe that needs to be back there."

As well as difficulties to contend with in his personal life, Hamilton's season has also been marred by on-track controversies.

In particular, the 2008 champion has clashed with Massa in six separate incidents, and while the Brazilian was punished in the most recent one in India, Hamilton was blamed by officials for their collisions in Monaco and Singapore.

Both Hamilton and Massa were keen to move on from their latest controversy in India and the Englishman said he was hopeful of a long-term end to their rift.

"I would like to clear the air but it can't just come from one side," he said.

"We have to meet each other in the middle and he has got to be willing as well.

"I have no problems with him, and that's been the same all year."

Massa, who faced a barrage of questions about his rivalry with Hamilton, said he had not had contact with Hamilton since India.

But the Brazilian said in Abu Dhabi: "I don't have anything against him to be honest.

"I will try to fight very hard with all the drivers. It's nothing to do with Lewis."

When pressed if Hamilton was the problem, Massa said: "He was a little bit too aggressive this season. He's had a problem with many other drivers as well."

Button said in Abu Dhabi that he would "fight" the two Red Bulls, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and Hamilton to finish runner-up to Red Bull's champion Sebastian Vettel.

But the 2009 world champion was reluctant to talk further about the battle between the two McLarens.

"Lewis is obviously in the same car as me and you're always fighting when you are both so competitive but we just don't talk about it," said Button.

"It's not just to finish in front of Lewis it's to finish in front of world champions, a guy that's been at the top like Lewis and Fernando and Mark Webber, he's the one to beat as he's in the same car that has just won the world championship."