Lewis Hamilton confident of a better F1 season in 2012

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer

Lewis Hamilton says he is confident he has resolved the problems which blighted him for much of last season.

The McLaren driver admitted 2011 was his worst in F1, but believes a winter away has led to a more positive mindset as he approaches the 2012 campaign.

"I feel very fresh," the 27-year-old former world champion said at the launch of McLaren's new car.

"Whichever issues I had I've worked hard to clarify and make sure I come into this year without any worries."

He added: "I feel very clear in my mind so I feel I can arrive on the right foot."

Hamilton spent the winter training in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, USA.

"It feels fantastic to be back," he said. "I have been training an incredible amount over the winter but just in the right way - I gave myself plenty of time to recover and recuperate."

He had an up-and-down time in 2011, with three wins interspersed with numerous on-track collisions and some off-track controversies.

Asked what he had learned from his travails, he said: "I think I've just matured. I'm 27 now. It's the way you behave, the way you handle yourself, ways you interact with the team.

"There are definitely things I can pay more attention to and work harder on. Most important is focus, to be world champion again.

"The car looks great. I saw it for the first time three days ago. I think it looks beautiful. Last year's car looked a bit different - this one looks like a real car.

"It's very clean at the back, and that's not fake. That's how the car is. I hope it drives as well as it looks."

The McLaren will run for the first time with test driver Oliver Turvey at the wheel in a brief aerodynamic test in Spain at the weekend, before Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button takes over for the first two days of the first official pre-season test at Jerez from Tuesday.

Button was bullish about the team's prospects of taking the fight this year to Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel, who dominated last season on their way to winning the drivers' and constructors' titles for the second consecutive year.

"I feel there's not an area we haven't really worked on, so we have no excuses," Button said.

"F1 is a very competitive business at the moment in terms of the drivers - six world champions - but also the teams.

"Red Bull, Ferrari, ourselves, Mercedes will be strong. But for us, we go out there to win the championship and that has to be our aim from the get-go.

"I've been in contact with the factory every week since I've been away (over the winter).

"I've been listening to what's been going on, they've been doing everything in a controlled manner and getting good results. Apart from that you don't know what's going to happen until you get to the first test.

"Everything we've asked for is on the car. We're in good shape before the first test, I might have a different opinion when I've done two or three runs on Tuesday but I don't think that will be the case.

"We're excited, a little bit apprehensive. When you hear the engines fire up, smell the fuel, smell the rubber and brakes, it's what we live for and we can't wait to get back to.

"We've done everything right over the winter, we've done all we can. We don't know if that's enough or not, but I think we have got the maximum out of ourselves."

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