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Hamilton focuses on championship chase as rumors over McLaren future persist

updated 10:47 AM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lewis Hamilton tells CNN his focus is on beating Fernando Alonso this season
  • Hamilton has been with McLaren team since he was 13, but has been linked with move away
  • He is looking to build on recent success at Monza with victory at forthcoming Singapore GP

(CNN) -- Speculation about which team Lewis Hamilton will be driving for next season continues to occupy the minds of both the media and fans of Formula One.

But the 27-year-old McLaren driver says his mind is focused on one thing -- adding a second world title to the one he won back in 2008.

"At the moment the most important thing for me is to focus on this championship as it is such a tall order -- to catch Fernando Alonso and keep consistency," Hamilton told CNN's Mallika Kapur.

"It's very difficult to leave any space to think about anything else. So I have to leave that to people who are working with me," added the British driver.

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Hamilton has been with the British Formula One team since he was 13 years old, starting over 100 races and taking the checkered flag on 20 occasions -- the last coming at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza earlier this month.

Despite the bond built up with McLaren -- a team he readily admits to "love racing" for -- Hamilton's future with them remains uncertain with rumors persisting that he will join Mercedes next season.

"There is so much speculation, and even in my mind I'm kinda like 'what's going on?' But you know, as I said, just keep the eye on the ball and win the world championship," Hamilton said.

"I've been working so hard the last few years and I've not won, so hopefully the time is close and that's the most important thing."

Hamilton is currently 37 points behind championship leader Alonso and he is slowly running out of road to close the gap with just seven races remaining.

Overhauling the Ferrari driver will be difficult, he concedes.

"Fernando is a two time champion, and he's the best there is. So to catch him and overtake him is a huge, huge tall order, but not impossible," he says.

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The pair endured a tempestuous season together as teammates in 2007 and Hamilton still carries a fiercely competitive streak with his current McLaren rival, Jenson Button. But relations off the track are far more cordial.

"We get along incredibly well. He's one of the nicest guys I know. And he's very, very respectful. Of course, I know he wants to beat me and it goes without saying I want to do the same. But we just work really well," Hamilton said.

"Outside, when we work together, when we do interviews and PR events and stuff like that, we just have fun. And then when we are at the race, we are serious, we don't really get into each other's way. He does his thing, I do mine. And that's how we manage it."

Speaking to CNN in Mumbai, India where he's been on promotional duties for McLaren, Hamilton is looking forward to returning to the Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi.

"At the grand prix last year they did an amazing job with the track, it is already up there with some of the greats. It has been so well thought out, really lovely to drive and very incredible," said the British driver.

Hamilton will return to India at the end of October, and could be leading the championship by then if things go his way in the three intervening races starting with Singapore this weekend.

He's confident about his chances, especially following a first victory at Monza.

"You always have great energy from a race win and that transcends to the whole team. [And with the] great vibe I see in the team right now, one can really believe that we have got a chance of winning this year. So we take energy from each other. Of course our car is doing very well and that way I can put my skills to it."

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