Barcelona: Lewis Hamilton walked purposefully across the room, shook hands with a finger-crunching and rock-steady grasp and looked his questioners straight in the eyes.
The 2008 Formula One world champion has yet to win a race this season, while team mate Jenson Button has had two victories in just four starts for McLaren, but there is not a trace of self-doubt in the Briton’s body language.
“I don’t feel downbeat. I’m not frustrated,” he told Reuters and two other international reporters in an interview at the Spanish Grand Prix.
“Clearly it’s not the way I would have liked things to have gone but this is motor racing.
“It’s just the way things have gone. It doesn’t mean he’s faster than me, it doesn’t mean he’s better than me or anything like that. He’s done a great job and I’ve just got to try and do a better job.”
Even by his own thrilling standards, Hamilton has had an eventful start to the season.
He has given the crowds as much overtaking as anyone could demand of a driver in modern Formula One, been in trouble with stewards twice for his aggressive approach and hauled over by the police in Australia.
The 25-year-old has also cut loose from his father’s management, split and reunited with his popstar girlfriend.
There is a strong sense that even if he has yet to win this season, Hamilton is revelling in showing the world just how sensational he can be.
“I think I’ve been able to show my true pace,” he said.
“You don’t have to win every race. In Brazil last year I started right at the back and came to the front and finished third.
“Those races are the ones you remember the most and the ones that are most satisfying. Starting first to finish first, of course it’s a great thing to win a grand prix but that’s an easy win,” he added.
“Starting from the back and really feeling like you’ve achieved something, and have worked through, is even more satisfying.”
The Circuit de Catalunya has rewarded the driver on pole position for the past nine years and Sunday is unlikely to be any exception, even if nobody has won from the top slot so far this season.
The crowd will be firmly behind local favourite Fernando Alonso, Hamilton’s former McLaren team mate now making his home debut for Ferrari, but the Briton also feels that they now respect him as well after racist incidents in the past.
“I think every year it gets better for me here,” said Hamilton, an occasional sniff betraying his allergic reaction to the pollen outside.
“Funnily enough, when we come for the testing it’s always surprising to see how much support I have here. It’s nice to feel accepted more and more.
“I’m sure there’s still plenty of people that still dislike me but I try not to focus on that. I think the fans have grown in numbers and every year I get more and more respect. The support is fantastic.”
Away from the track, the Briton is keen to project the right image as a role model and build what he refers to as his own ‘brand’.
“My image, my name is a brand. I am a brand. So I’ve got to try and do positive things to help it grow. I want to build a brand in the sport, I want to move forward rather than stay in the same place.”