Hamilton: F1 still rewarding for drivers

Although he concedes Formula 1 is no longer as physically demanding as when he first started, Lewis Hamilton insists it remains "massively challenging".

The sport has had a lot of bad press in recent weeks with some drivers, team bosses, pundits and fans questioning the direction in which it is heading.

Former race winner and BBC commentator David Coulthard was perhaps the harshest critic as he felt the drivers are no longer enjoying F1 as they are not being pushed physically or mentally.

However, Hamilton insists it remains a big challenge to drive a Formula 1 car.

"Since the Canadian Grand Prix, I see there has been a fair bit of debate about Formula 1," he told BBC Sport.

"I'm obviously aware that the sport's bosses are discussing changing the rules to make the cars faster by 2017 but I don't see it as my job to judge what F1 is. My job is to get into the car and drive as fast and as well as possible.

"What I can say, though, is that anyone who says F1 is not rewarding or demanding for the drivers is wrong.

"The problem is that, for the large part, people watching the television don't understand all of what is going on. They might think it is easy to drive the cars but I can assure you it is not."

One area of particular concern is the decision to ban fuelling, which has resulted in a lot of calls from the pitwall for drivers to save fuel during races.

Fans feel it is taking away from the spectacle, but sees things differently.

"One of the areas that seems to have generated the most debate is the way we save fuel, using a technique called 'lift and coast', which we have to do in some, but not all, of the races," he added.

"This is where we lift off the accelerator before we would normally brake on a flat-out lap, and then brake later into the corner.

"It is the most efficient way of reducing fuel consumption, in terms of saving the most fuel for the least effect on lap time.

"It is absolutely not easy, though, and it is not the case that by doing it we are not on the limit. The car is still on the edge through the corners, we are just approaching them in a different way.

"The same goes for looking after the tyres. It is still massively challenging. And mentally F1 is just as challenging as before."

However, he does admit that racing is no longer "flat out", but maintains it is still a major challenge.

He added: "The only way it is different to when I started in F1 is physically. It is not as killer as it used to be when the cars were much faster, and we carried more speed through the corners and had much better tyres.

"For the first four years I was in F1, it was flat out all the way. From 2007-2009, we had pit stops for fuel, and through those years and into 2010 we had much more durable tyres.

"That is not the case now and we have to adapt. 

"It is still tough physically, don't get me wrong. We have to be extremely fit to race in F1. But we're not completely exhausted at the end of races any more, like we quite often were in the last decade.

"Even if it was changed so we pushed flat out on every lap, it is hard for people to see that on TV.

"All I can say is that I love driving the cars and I am still massively challenged every weekend."

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