Lewis Hamilton claimed he felt no pressure because of his bid to become Formula One world champion.
The McLaren Mercedes star goes into tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix as world drivers’ championship leader, three points clear of defending world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton finished joint runner-up to the Finn last season following a remarkable rookie campaign which saw him claim a podium finish in his first five races before notching his maiden grand prix victory in Montreal 12 months ago.
Hamilton remains the centre of attention for the media in the paddock and for the fans in the stands but the Englishman claimed he was just trying to stay focused on his job with McLaren.
“I don’t read what’s in the papers, I don’t read anything as regards Formula One,” said Hamilton.
“I lead a normal life out of Formula One and then I come here I do my job and do what I love doing.
“I’m aiming to shut it all out and put it at the back of my mind.
“I know how good I am so I just keep on doing what I’m doing and I’m enjoying it. So I don’t particularly feel the pressure.”
In the wake of comments from Raikkonen that he was mulling over his retirement from the sport when his Ferrari contract expires at the end of 2009, in part because he did not enjoy the demands of the job away from driving, Hamilton said he preferred not to talk shop with his fellow drivers.
He said: “I don’t speak to many of them about this stuff. We talk about other things, we talk about girls, parties, cars and none of the drivers really talk about that other stuff.”
Hamilton was speaking after he laid down his marker for the weekend by posting the fastest lap in yesterday’s two free practice sessions, one minute 15.752 seconds.
In an afternoon session that saw his former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso spin out in his Renault and Ferrari rival Felipe Massa grind to a halt with a systems problem, Hamilton found the time to drive around a groundhog, a rodent that is one of the regular inhabitants of the island in the middle of the St Lawrence River that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve also calls home.
Hamilton got his wildlife confused, his first thought was that he had come across a beaver, but he was relieved to have avoided bloodshed when the groundhog strayed onto the circuit.
“I love the track, there’s not a part that I don’t like,” said Hamilton.
“But there are a lot of beavers or, I don’t know what they’re called, but they keep coming onto the track and I’m a bit worried they’re going to kill themselves because at the end of the day you’re travelling at 200 miles per hour and they’re standing there in the middle of the track and there’s not much you can do.
“I saw one in the middle of the track and I had to go around it. I saw the crowd and they were quite happy I missed it.”
Hamilton was also happy with his day’s work.
“We’ve still got work to do ahead of the race but we’ve already got some positive running under our belts.”