Seeking privacy away from the F1 circuit
Lewis Hamilton is quitting Britain to live in Switzerland because he has had enough of the constant intrusion into his private life. The McLaren driver burst into the public eye this season as he just missed out on being the youngest
driver to claim the world championship after finishing second behind Kimi Raikkonen
But the 22-year-old is desperate to avoid the intense scrutiny he has been subjected to throughout his debut season.
"I've decided to move to Switzerland," he told the BBC. "You lose your ability to go to places. You really struggle to live a normal life. It's been a really tough year. I've not been able to spend a lot of time with my friends, my family."
"You come home and everyone knows you, it makes it so much harder to do normal things. I can't go to the cinema. I go to the bathroom in a petrol station and people come in there for autographs. It's tough but I knew that was going to be the case."
Hamilton has just had a street named after him in his home town Stevenage, but he can't wait to swap England for the anonymity of Switzerland.
"People don't come up to you. They leave you alone, they give you your space," he said.
Hamilton's meteoric rise was threatened several times by off-track controversy involving McLaren, who were fined $100m after the spy-gate saga. While he believes the Formula One authorities treated his team unfairly last season, he knows they have to stay out of trouble next year.
"They're obviously tough on us, maybe more than on others. Next year, we know what expect.
We should keep our heads down, level-headed and just get on with (it). You just focus on your job and just try to keep it squeaky clean, do everything perfect."
Hamilton still has an outside chance of being 2007 world champion if the November 15th hearing into events at Interlagos eight days ago goes McLaren's way. McLaren have appealed the stewards' decision not to penalise Williams Toyota or BMW Sauber for fuel irregularities. Were they disqualified, Hamilton may be handed the points that would see him overhaul Raikkonen, but Hamilton is satisfied with his season regardless.
"The beginning of the season I was saying I just want to do a good job, keep my feet on the ground and just do a good job for the team and not embarrass myself and my family and friends. It's just been a phenomenal rollercoaster. I don't live with regrets. It's something I've learnt to deal with over the years."
"Take a step back. If you'd have said 12 months ago, I'd be challenging for the world championship, finishing second in the world championship, I'd have been happy with it. I've reached my goal, I've got to Formula One. Obviously, there's another step I want to take which is becoming world champion but I'm 22 years old, my first year in Formula One, I've got time to do that."