Hamilton: 'Bubble' no longer needed
Lewis Hamilton believes he is no longer in need of the "bubble" he once desperately craved to protect him in his times of trouble.
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Towards the end of 2011 at McLaren as he was enduring a year of whatever could go wrong did go wrong on and off track, he cast envious eyes in the direction of then team-mate Jenson Button.
For years now, Button has surrounded himself with a group of people who have been there through his all joys and sorrows, primarily his father John, girlfriend Jessica Michibata, manager Richard Goddard and trainer Mike Collier.
In contrast, at that stage Hamilton was leading a life of solitude, and seemingly had no one close to pick him up when he was down, to listen to his troubles or to advise when required.
Eighteen months on and how times have changed in Hamilton's world, in particular since leaving McLaren to join Mercedes, a team content to allow him to be who he wants to be.
"I relate it to when I was really young, when you had superstitions," said Hamilton, speaking ahead of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit.
"Say there was a time when you didn't have your lucky boxer shorts on, or something, then everything would go to pot.
"When I talked about having a bubble, I thought I needed that bubble.
"Somehow I like to think I have worked around it. I don't think I have to have a bubble any more.
"Right now I have a good group of people around me. The only question mark is whether there are too many or too few. I am on the limit in terms of how many people I have working with me.
"But I feel I have the right people in place - the right manager, the right assistant, the right assistant managers.
"I am also in the right team, with the right girlfriend, and living in the right place, so I feel I have all the pieces of a puzzle coming into place, with more so in the future."
Hamilton has certainly been far more outspoken and expressive since joining Mercedes, claiming he felt constrained at times by McLaren, renowned for their corporate stature.
In turn, that has also translated into his form on track so far with the Brackley-based team, even if the 28-year-old finished fifth in Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix from third on the grid.
As Hamilton has been invigorated by his move, so the team has been energised by his arrival, with the rewards there for all to see so far.
"I have been told there is a new sense of life in the team, a newer spirit with me coming in," said Hamilton.
"When you join a new team sometimes it takes a long, long time to really settle in, but to be honest the process has been moving so rapidly that I am feeling quite good with where I am at the moment."
Again, with reference to how he had grown stale at McLaren, Hamilton added: "The move has definitely given me a new spur of life and excitement, which is great.
"The other day, before flying out to Australia, I felt great just going on the simulator.
"I had driven the one at McLaren since I was 13, a long, long time, a lot of laps, and it got to the point where I was dreading going back and doing some simulator running."
There is a sense Mercedes' turnaround, and with Hamilton now at the wheel, has come much quicker than anybody expected, and so far the enthusiasm on both sides has been infectious.
"I wouldn't like to say I have lifted the team. The team is a great one that has been unfortunate not have a good car," said Hamilton.
"I hope, because I have come in with a lot of energy and excitement, saying 'guys, let's do this, let's do that', that I am on it, that I am inspiring them as they inspire me.
"Working with these guys, asking them questions, gets them thinking 'He is really on it, that's good to see. I'm going to get this done'.
"It has been good to see them working on the input I've had, and to see it happen immediately has been great."