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Motor Race: Hamilton will take time to sift through wreckage.

Byline: BY IAN PARKES Daily Post Correspondent

McLAREN principal Ron Dennis believes Lewis Hamilton will mentally take stock over the next few days before regaining his competitive edge.

On Sunday, Hamilton was in no mood to dissect in detail a Bahrain Grand Prix in which he appeared far from his cool, composed self, storming away from the track after labelling it "a disaster".

His mistake in practice on Friday when he wrecked his McLaren by slamming broadside into a tyre wall at over 100mph was one thing.

But his two errors in two mad minutes at the start of the race were quite another, and totally out of character for the 23-year-old who ultimately lost the lead in the world title race.

Hamilton made more unforced errors in three days in Bahrain than he made throughout the entirety of his debut season last year.

Whether it was just a bad weekend at the office, or if Hamilton had other issues on his mind, time will tell at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona later this month.

Between now and then, Hamilton is certain to sift through the mental wreckage of the worst performance of his 20 grands prix career as he limped home a miserable 13th.

Once that is done, the Briton will undoubtedly draw on the experience, ensuring normal service will be resumed in Spain.

"If you're a competitive person, you're hard on yourself," said Dennis.

"I've said many times I don't think I'm the exception to the rule in this team: we're not great losers.

"We're fighters, and when you don't think you've done a particularly good job, you go away and all you want is for the next race to come because you know if nothing else changes, you're going to be more competitive.

"It's the nature of this sport, it's so full of ups and downs. It is an emotional rollercoaster of grands prix, and it has never been any different."

Despite Hamilton appearing out of sorts, Dennis is convinced there will be no panic, but rather an appreciation of the situation.

Hamilton initially failed to trigger the anti-stall mechanism off the grid that temporarily left him stranded as the field swarmed past.

Then early on lap two he ploughed into the back of old adversary Fernando Alonso, destroying his nose cone and damaging other areas of the car that led to a lack of pace for the remainder of the race.

"What happens is you rationalise everything for a couple of days, go through a mental dip and then you come back," added Dennis.

"The only thing you look at as you go into the last weekends is the points standings, and they're all so close at this stage it's almost immaterial.

"When it's so close, you don't suddenly start panicking - you concentrate on starting the weekend and working though it and doing a really good job."

With the opening long-haul races now out of the way, attention switches to the European scene where Dennis is convinced his team will be strong.

McLaren slipped not only behind bitter rivals Ferrari at the Sakhir circuit, but also BMW Sauber who now lead the constructors' championship for the first time in their history.

Remarkably, though, Dennis does not believe BMW's threat will be consistent and that they will maintain their performance.

"We respect all competitors," added Dennis.

"But when we get to Europe, this is where the research and development and speed of manufacture make a difference.

It's the nature of this sport, full of ups and downs RON DENNIS

CAPTION(S):

Lewis Hamilton is overtaken by eventual winner Felipe Massa as mistakes cost the British driver his chance in the Bahrain Grand Prix; Lewis Hamilton
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 8, 2008
Words:619
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