F1 favourite Hamilton expects life to stay the same

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SHANGHAI, Oct 4 (Reuters) McLaren's Lewis Hamilton played it cool on Thursday as he prepared for a Chinese Grand Prix that could transform him into Formula One's youngest champion as well as the first rookie winner.

Asked whether he was prepared ''to become a real superstar'', the 22-year-old Briton doubted that his life would change too much.

''I don't think it's going to make a huge difference,'' he told reporters at the Shanghai circuit. ''I won championships in the past, it's obviously a great feeling winning a championship, but you move on and you go to the next one and you try to do it again.

''Next year I'll be more experienced, I can analyse the year, try to be fitter and to do an even better job next year,'' added the championship leader.

''I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground and keep on enjoying this and as long as I do that I'll stay for as long as I can. I'm 22, I've got a long way to go.'' Hamilton leads Spanish team mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso by 12 points with one race remaining after Sunday.

While Alonso must hope for a miracle, Hamilton will be champion if he wins or finishes ahead of his team mate and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

The Briton said his preparations would be no different this weekend, either.

REMAINS OPEN ''Again it's a track I don't know and so for me it's pretty similar to going to Fuji,'' he said. ''Here I'm probably more at a disadvantage because I don't know the layout as well as other people do.

''I approach it in exactly the same way and the aim is to win. I don't see any reason why I should change my approach...the aim always has to be to try and win the race and if we go with that we should be okay.'' How long Hamilton and Alonso remain team mates remains open to conjecture.

Hamilton's future at McLaren is assured but the Spaniard, whose relationship with his bosses has deteriorated to the point of outright coldness since he arrived from Renault in January, could be on the move.

''Now is not the time to speak about next year. I will try to win these two races and when the championship is finished we will see,'' Alonso said today when asked about a possible return to Renault.

He was also strangely reticent when asked whether McLaren might be able to favour Hamilton through subtle changes to tyre pressures and wing settings: ''That's a difficult question. I will not answer it.'' Hamilton, who has been critical of Alonso's loyalty to the team and his sense of fair play, said however that he bore the Spaniard no ill will.

''I wish him the best wherever he is. If he is with us next year, then we will work the best way we can,'' he said.

''I get on with Fernando well, we had a good conversation today, there is nothing wrong with us. So I think for the future, wherever he is, we will get on well.'' REUTERS BJR RK1625

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