Hamilton, Button prepare differently for F1 season
Updated: February 01, 2012, 14:12
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LONDON(AP) Lewis Hamilton has tried to clear his mind of personal troubles. Jenson Button has sought specialist nutritional advice.
During Formula One's winter break, the McLaren teammates have been taking different approaches in their competing quests to become world champion again by breaking the dominance of Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton spent time in Colorado's Rocky Mountains after the 2008 world champion finished fifth last season. On-track incidents and accidents were compounded when he split from long-term girlfriend, the popstar and TV talent judge Nicole Scherzinger.
Now, Hamilton says he feels "very free of any of the burdens that I had on me last year.''
"I feel fresh,'' he said Wednesday at the unveiling of McLaren's MP4-27 car. "It was just a fantastic winter where I got to spend time with friends and family and I was able to wind down and let loose.
"Then I got into quite an intense training regime, sitting down in between times where I analyzed the year and certain things in my personal life which weren't as good as they could be. I went about correcting those things.''
The 27-year-old Hamilton wants to "focus on racing'' and ending Vettel's reign as world champion.
"I think I've the ability to (become champion),'' Hamilton said. "If the car is where we hope, there's no reason why we can't do that. The only thing that ever gets in your way is your own mind and your own insecurities or obstacles that you put in your way.
"The most important thing is to put those things aside and to overcome them, and I think I have. So I feel right. Standing right in front of you, I feel stronger than I was a few months ago particularly. But even more so than I was last year at the start of the year.''
Button was far more content last season, finishing second in the drivers' standings, 122 points behind Vettel.
In search of an advantage this year, the 2009 world champion has been working with a specialist training and dietary center for elite performers.
"We've been working on nutrition,'' Button said. "It sounds crazy but when you are at the top of any sport you've got to look for anything, to run through different things. It can keep you positive and in the right frame of mind for the time you need it within the car, and also out of it.
"You'd think it's easy, not to have fat and things like that, but that doesn't work for certain people ... steak and eggs is the best thing for me for breakfast.''
Button said that on a mental level he was "pretty happy at the end of last year'' and he will be the first on Tuesday to test McLaren's new car in Jerez, Spain, followed by Hamilton on Friday.
What the drivers crave is a competitive car by the time the season opens at the Australian Grand Prix on March 18.
"We don't like losing or coming second, and the last two years have had their frustrations,'' team principal Martin Whitmarsh said. "We won't know until qualifying in Australia where this car is. Last year we had, by McLaren standards, an abysmal winter testing session where we didn't have pace.
"It was a relatively stressful process, and of course I'd be much happier to be not fighting those issues. There's a lot of work gone into this car and we believe we're in a better position this winter compared to last.''