Lewis Hamilton says he is not doing anything wrong

By Sarah HoltBBC Sport in Suzuka

Under-fire Lewis Hamilton has defended his driving this season, saying: "I'm not doing anything wrong".

The McLaren driver has been in trouble for a spate of incidents, including a clash with Ferrari's Felipe Massa at the last race in Singapore.

"I'm trying my best to avoid those things but I've been in awkward positions this year," said Hamilton ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.

"I'm trying my hardest. I'm still here, still fighting, and I'm not giving up."

The incident with rival Massa during the Singapore Grand Prix was the latest controversy in a season the 26-year-old has called the "most testing" of his career.

Hamilton's two brilliant wins in China and Germany have been overshadowed by a string of incidents.

Asked by BBC Sport whether he was in a "good place", Hamilton said: "Good place, that's a good question. Obviously I'd like to be winning and doing a better job.

"Am I in the best place in my life? No, there's been a lot of negative stories.

"But what's most important is still I rise, I'm here, fighting again, I'm here in front of all the cameras and media regardless of how many negative stories there are and I'm here to fight another day."

Asked to explain why he had made so many mistakes this season, Hamilton said: "It's just been unfortunate."

"When things go that quickly, sometimes you get it wrong. What people need to understand is that when you're driving a Formula 1 car there is not one second that you drive that is the same next time around.

"You are juggling tons of balls and sometimes you drop one of them. You can drop the ball that gets you a penalty and I just seem to be dropping that particular ball quite often."

Hamilton has found himself in hot water with the stewards more often than any other driver so far this season.

Most notably in Monaco, the Englishman received two drive-through penalties after clashing with Massa and Pastor Maldonado's Williams and went on to launch a furious attack on the stewards.

But in Suzuka a subdued Hamilton would not criticise his treatment at the hands of the authorities.

"I don't see anyone else having the problems that I'm having," he said. "But I don't see many people achieving the same things I have.

"When we're in the drivers briefing we just speak about wanting consistency [with penalties].

"For whatever reason I've had more penalties than most people but I'll continue to take them on the chin as and when they come."

Hamilton provoked Massa's ire when he tried to pass his 2008 title rival with a clumsy pass during the race in Singapore.

Despite insisting he had put the incident behind him, Massa was very vocal on the topic when facing the media throng in Suzuka.

But the Brazilian said he had no plans to make an official complaint against Hamilton to FIA race director Charlie Whiting against Hamilton in Thursday's drivers' briefing, partly because Hamilton had been penalised during the race.

"I have nothing to say because everything he's doing he's paying for that you know," said Massa.

"The FIA is doing what is inside the regulations - he had the drive-through so I think he has had time enough to learn to be honest."

Massa and Hamilton were also involved in an altercation in the media zone after the Singapore race.

The Brazilian went up to the McLaren driver as he was about to start an interview, patted his shoulder, and said: "Good job, bro."

Hamilton replied: "Don't touch me, man. Don't touch me"

Massa said he had no plans to try to talk to Hamilton again in Suzuka.

"I would not go to him to speak to him," he added. "I tried to speak to him but he did not want to speak to me and that is why I was even more disappointed.

"If I was in his position I would come to say sorry."

Hamilton said he hoped to speak to Massa about "normal things" over the weekend but agreed that they would not speak again about what happened in Singapore.

"I don't think we have anything else to discuss," said Hamilton. "I don't have any problems with him.

"It's a shame we're still talking about the previous race. I'm over it, it's in the past, I had my penalty so I don't feel I owe any more."

Hamilton, who revealed he had been deliberately avoiding reading any critical press, said he tried not to be affected by what was written about him and was now focused on the task ahead in Suzuka.

"It's not about how or what I've done this year but it's how I rise above it and how I come back out on top at some stage," he added.

"What's important for me is to try and get a good again. The team are massively supportive even throughout this turbulent time.

"The plan is to get on it, stay out of trouble and get back on the top spot somehow."

Button, who has 17 more points than Hamilton, defended his team-mate, saying he expects him to answer his critics with a strong performance in Japan.

"It's not an easy situation for anyone but as a driver Lewis is very strong," said Button.

"He's not going to slow down. He's going to turn up here in Suzuka and he's going to be very competitive."