Party over for Hamilton as new season dawns

Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:04am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton spent the off-season crisscrossing the globe to party with A-list celebrities but Formula One's reigning champion is adamant there will be no hangover when he returns to work at this week's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The clear bookmakers' favorite to win a third successive title with Mercedes, Hamilton will arrive in Melbourne after a whirlwind trip to New Zealand where he took to the skies in a helicopter on Wednesday above the mountain resort of Queenstown.

Hamilton's frequent flying and party lifestyle prompted some pundits to voice concerns about his focus and energy levels in the leadup to Sunday's race at Albert Park.

However, the 31-year-old says his competitive drive remains as sharp as ever and his feet will be firmly on the ground once he enters the paddock.

"I know there's still more to come from me -- I think I've shown that in the past two years," Hamilton, winner in Australia last year and in 2008, said this week.

"There certainly needs to be some extra in my tank, as the competition will be stronger than ever this year."

Many invested in motor sport's pinnacle series will hope Hamilton is right about the level of competition he expects to face this season.

Another win in Melbourne from pole position for the Briton could add more voices to the growing weariness of the Silver Arrows' dominance.   Continued...

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton attends the Stella McCartney Fall/Winter 2016/2017 women's ready-to-wear collection show in Paris, France, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier