World champion Lewis Hamilton ends the ugly rivalry with Alonso

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World champion Lewis Hamilton ends the ugly rivalry with Alonso

Mensaje  max_pole el Miér Nov 12, 2008 5:52 pm

On a glorious day when 75,000 Germans paid homage to Britain's new world champion, Lewis Hamilton revealed yesterday how embittered rival Fernando Alonso had made peace with him.

Before Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, Alonso, who had been driven out of the McLaren-Mercedes team after an acrimonious season with Hamilton last year, had publicly pledged his assistance to Felipe Massa in his quest to beat Hamilton to the title.

But yesterday, in the heartland of Mercedes-Benz, Hamilton brought a close to the ugliest rivalry Formula One had witnessed since the bad blood that poisoned Ayrton Senna's relationship with Alain Prost.

'It was great to see Fernando in my garage after the race,' said Hamilton. 'He shook my hand and gave me a hug, then congratulated the rest of the team. It took a big man to come and do that. I was thankful.'

Hamilton, who became the youngest champion in F1 history two corners from the end of a story written across five continents and 18 races, yesterday made a rock-star entrance in Germany, running on to a stage to greet his audience with the words, 'Guten morgen, Stuttgart!'

For the next five hours, his face was lit by a permanent smile as he signed autographs, played drums on stage, drove a variety of Mercedes cars and toured the streets in an open-topped limousine.

Nobody accused the 23-year-old British driver, from a humble council estate in Hertfordshire, of behaving arrogantly. Nobody mentioned the colour of his skin or challenged his sportsmanship.

But Hamilton knows that his championship has not met with universal celebration.

'It saddens me sometimes that people get a different opinion of me,' he said. 'But that is OK, I'm young and I'm going to be here for a while and I'm going to do everything I can to win them over. It will be a slow cycle but hopefully I've got time to change people's opinions and show them I am a true person with good values and good morals.'

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis, who invested £3million in Hamilton's journey from apprentice to sorcerer, and now pays him £10m a year, is mystified by the hostility shown in some quarters to his latest world champion.

'This moment is special because Lewis is a special person,' said Dennis. 'When people talk about Lewis being arrogant, I'm amazed. There is no arrogance in him. It absolutely astonishes me that some people give him no quarter.

'He has total self-belief - because that's what we demanded from him from the time he was a boy racing karts. What's so wrong with that? I love people who have confidence. What's wrong with that? We are prepared to get to next season back to zero again - but why can't we celebrate in Britain this great moment in a young man's life?'

Hamilton was accompanied by Dennis yesterday, but his girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, was aboard a flight back to Los Angeles.

She had been with him when he took an ovation at McLaren HQ on Wednesday, when he offered the workforce his heartfelt thanks, and that evening she joined him at an awards ceremony in Berlin.

On Thursday, he visited the Newbury HQ of Vodafone, the team's title sponsors, and later that day travelled to the Midlands to make an appearance at the facility where Mercedes' high-performance engines are prepared.

His smile never dropped once.

When he finally receives the world championship trophy at an FIA dinner in Monte Carlo next month, he will place it alongside the other trophies which, uniquely, Dennis has allowed him to keep.

Dennis contractually obliges his drivers to hand all trophies to his company, but Hamilton said: 'I made a deal with Ron that I could keep the trophy from my first podium, first win, first Monaco win and first world championship. I am happy with that!'
Hamilton has struck another shrewd compromise, too. He will not be hurried back into his car for testing for fear of burn-out.

'I didn't win the title last year but still felt burned out by January,' he explained. 'I need some time to myself.'

He insisted that he owed much of his success to his relocation to Switzerland, no matter how controversial that is viewed by some.

'I have no distractions in Geneva,' he said. 'I love the mountains, the air and the peace I have in Switzerland. But Geneva is only where I live; England is my home.'

Last night, he ended the first week of his new existence as Formula One world champion as guest of honour at a Mercedes party at their headquarters.

'I know the party will be great - but I am looking forward to having a day off tomorrow,' he said. 'I plan to sleep all day!'

His dreams will have never been sweeter.
www.dailymail.co.uk

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"A menudo me he tenido que comer mis palabras y he descubierto que eran una dieta equilibrada". Winston Churchill.
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