Lewis Hamilton must learn to handle his racing misfortune without worrying what is written about him in the press - and he needs to clear his mind in the run-up to what promises to be a psychologically crucial British grand prix at Silverstone, the next round of the Formula One championship on July 6.
Not my words – this warning to the 23-year old McLaren-Mercedes driver came from former triple world champion Niki Lauda after Hamilton completed a desperately disappointing French grand prix at Magny-Cours on Sunday in 10th place after incurring a drive-through penalty for straight-lining one of the corners.
After the race, Hamilton ignore requests for television interviews as the stormed back to the privacy of the McLaren motorhome, his obvious disappointment raising inevitable speculation that he was finding it difficult to deal with the pressure generated by his failure to score championship points in either of the last two races.
"Lewis needs to get his relationship with the press firmly in focus and keep in mind that anything which is written in the papers the morning after a race, whether he does well or badly, isn't going to alter the fact that he is one of the very best Formula One drivers of the current generation," said Lauda, who won two titles for Ferrari in 1975 and ‘77 and a third for McLaren in 1984.
“He needs urgently to realise that he has to keep his emotions under control under every circumstance in order to retain his focus and perspective. The Lesson I learned early on during my time at Ferrari was to keep my feelings suppressed when I won races. I would go to the podium, collect my trophy and shower the champagne, then go away and make sure I never read the next day's papers. Once you've learned to do that when you're a winner, it becomes correspondingly easy to handle when you don't win."
Although Lauda acknowledges that Hamilton's mistakes in the Canadian and French Grands Prix have potentially damaged his chances of winning the World Championship the Austrian veteran believes the young Brit can still achieve his ambition.
"But Lewis must not make anymore mistakes," said Lauda. "When I was driving we always kept within the performance potential of the car, because if we went off the road there was an ever-present risk that you might hurt yourself.”
"Today it is different. Improvements in car safety and track design have created a situation where competitors are almost invited to over-drive, OK so mistakes don't cost lives anymore, but they can cost championships."