Melbourne GP Betting: Can Hamilton regain glory?
Hamilton's camp insist that his approach will be different this year
Even with all the ability in the world, Ralph Ellis rates Lewis Hamilton a better top-three lay at the Melbourne Grand Prix than a win.
When the first race in the 2012 F1 season kicks off in Melbourne, the question must be asked: which Lewis Hamilton will turn up?
Will it be the one who was so single-mindedly obsessed with winning his first world title in an amazing season for McLaren in 2008?
Or will it be the distracted, impatient, accident waiting to happen who competed in most of the Grand Prix races in 2011?
Hamilton's ability as a driver has never been in question. He has the natural instincts of a racer, and the story of how he came from a broken home in Stevenage, with no history in motorsport, to become arguably Britain's biggest motor racing star of the 21st Century is the stuff of Hollywood.
Unfortunately, it seems that in the last couple of years it's been Hollywood that's taken over. Lewis has lapped up the celebrity lifestyle and his on-off relationship with former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger was unquestionably a distraction last year. Yes, his car was off the pace. But so was he. Trailing champion Sebastian Vettel by 165 points at the end of the campaign might have been excusable - ending 43 behind his McLaren team mate Jenson Button definitely wasn't.
Hamilton's star quality explains why he is [1.9] to be back in the top three drivers this season. But even with a car that, by all accounts, will be far more competitive it's still far too uncertain whether Lewis himself will be properly focused.
David Coulthard has warned today that Hamilton's relationship with his glamorous girlfriend could still cast a shadow on his performance -- especially if it means frequent flights to LA.
The BBC1 pundit said: "I don't think it is going to be good if you are clocking up lots of miles in between events."
Hamilton's camp insist that his approach will be different this year. They believe his decision to move his home from Switzerland to Monaco will help him be more focused. And Nicole's break with The X Factor means she can spend more time in Europe to cut down on his travelling.
But it still leaves a doubt to suggest that if anybody from the Woking team will give Red Bull a run for their money this season it is still more likely to be Button. He is [10.5] in the Drivers' Championship betting and, based on last season, that looks far more like value.
Five things you might not know about David Coulthard
1. Born March 1971 in the tiny Scottish village of Twynholm, he was born literally on four wheels - his mum was still on the trolley going into the labour ward!
2. His grandfather had driven in the Monte Carlo rally, and father Duncan had been Scottish karting champion before giving up racing to concentrate on running the family haulage business
3. He suffered from bulimia as a teenager as a result of keeping his weight low enough to be more competitive in kart racing.
4. His business interests include a string of hotels - the Dakota in Edinburgh won the title of Scotland's best hotel restaurant in 2008. Until two years ago he owned the Columbus in Monaco, but sold it for more than £30million.
5. He met the Spice Girls at the height of their fame, but they didn't know who he was. He introduced himself as "I'm David Coulthard, the driver", and got the reply: "Oh, right, what time are you coming to pick us up?"