Hamilton admits he nearly quit F1
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he considered quitting Formula One in the wake of the Lie-gate controversy.
The 2008 world champion was found guilty of misleading race stewards at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, and although McLaren escaped with just a three-race suspended ban, Hamilton revealed the shame was almost too much to bear.
"There was a lot to take on board after what had gone on," Hamilton told the Sunday Telegraph. "I care about how people perceive me. It was a feeling of 'shoot, maybe I shouldn't be in the sport' rather than not in my team. This is my dream team and I am fortunate to have been here from the beginning.
"I never had a desire to drive for anyone else. So it was not a desire to leave the team, just to stop racing. For a split second it was 'this is too much to take. How do I recover from this?'"
After a poor start to the season that saw him pick up just nine points from the first nine races, Hamilton and McLaren were finally able to get on the podium in Hungary, and two race wins and three podium finishes saw him finish the season fifth.
And ahead of the new season, Hamilton is relishing the challenge of the new season, up against team-mate Jenson Button, and he admits the support from friends and family helped him overcome the difficult time.
"I never for a second didn't want to do it, I love racing. I just didn't know how to ... sometimes it is hard to face the music; hard to face people when you know that as soon as you turn your back they are talking about you.
"And for a long period of time, for months, I would walk into a room and I am sure there are some people who walked into the room and they feel cool but for me I just didn't feel positive, it was negative energy and I don't like that.
"But slowly I began to realise that it was not all negative energy and I had a lot of support and respect from people. It made me stronger. It was a real strong experience. I can't say what will happen in the future but I have always said I love the sport, I love winning and winning in the right way. Integrity is very important to me."