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Hamilton 'in a happier place'
Lewis Hamilton feels he is now a more complete driver after shedding some of the emotional baggage he has carried with him throughout an often turbulent past.
Jenson Button this week described Hamilton as the best of the team-mates he has had the privilege of working with over his 14 years in F1 and ahead of his 250th grand prix this weekend.
The 34-year-old, however, offered a revealing insight into Hamilton and the three years they spent together at McLaren from 2010-2012, by claiming the 29-year-old was "very up and down emotionally".
Hamilton could not disagree with Button's appraisal when asked for his opinion of the remarks, but at least believes he has now moved on, notably this season with a winning car beneath him again.
"I would say what he (Button) said is quite accurate," said Hamilton.
"I always wear my heart on my sleeve, which gets me into trouble now and then, but you go through different experiences.
"I've always talked to you about trying to put the right pieces in place, whether that's experience or whatever, to get through my year in a positive way without having those (up and down) spikes, and I feel like I might have found it.
"Being in this team is a lot different. It's an absolute pleasure coming to the track, especially now, even more so, knowing we've got a really competitive car.
"With the people I'm working with I couldn't imagine a better place, I really couldn't."
Asked to explain the differences now compared to the troubled times he encountered at McLaren in his latter years, Hamilton added: "The difference is in myself, in me and my life, where I'm happier being."
It was suggested to Hamilton that part of his problem at McLaren was that he was 'moulded in some sort of PR straitjacket' to which he replied: "A little bit.
"We've spoken about that before. It's a different machine here.
"McLaren have a lot more sponsors than we do, but we are growing with them, which is a good thing."
As for those "right pieces" Hamilton refers to, they are falling into place as he said: "It's just that over the years you are trying to do better.
"You are trying to train better, feel better and be happier with where you live and your decision making, trying to make fewer mistakes."
As in Malaysia last weekend, Hamilton has again so far been error free in Bahrain as he was quickest in both free practice sessions, and comfortably so.
After setting a fairly sedate time of one minute 37.502seconds in FP1, Hamilton improved by 3.2secs in the second session run under floodlights.
To celebrate the race's 10th anniversary this year, organisers have installed a lighting system that means Bahrain can now rival Abu Dhabi and Singapore in running events at night.
Only team-mate Nico Rosberg was remotely within touching distance of Hamilton, and even then the German was 0.365secs adrift.
As for the rest, they were all at least a second off Hamilton's pace, highly unusual for a second practice session and underlying the advantage Mercedes have over their rivals at present.
As in FP1, Fernando Alonso was the quickest of the chasing pack in his Ferrari in the second session, albeit 1.035secs down.
Hamilton was naturally quite guarded with regard to his performance, not wanting to get too carried away despite his obvious level of dominance.
"It's been a pretty decent day," said Hamilton.
"I've loved driving and the car feels better here now than it did when we were here testing (in February and early March).
"I've a much better feel of where I need to put the car, so I'm very happy with the practice sessions.
"Of course, it's definitely good to come here off a positive weekend, with that momentum, but we still have a lot of work to do to really dial in the car, both in qualifying and the race.
"It's still going to be tough, a real challenge, particularly with the temperatures dropping all the time, so the balance is shifting throughout the run.
"But we feel strong, I feel strong in the car, so let's hope it is the case."
McLaren's Jenson Button and reigning four-times champion Sebastian Vettel were sixth and seventh quickest, but with both 1.2secs down.
Marussia's Max Chilton was down in 20th, with his session ending 40 minutes early due to a left-front brake disk failure on his car that forced him into a 360 degree spin on the approach to the right-hander turn four.