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Lewis Hamilton has already started to turn his mind towards next year’s Formula One world title campaign.

Hamilton finished a disappointing fourth in the Italian Grand Prix to leave himself 126 points adrift of Sebastian Vettel after the German claimed his eighth win of a dominant year.

With only 150 points available, it was a downbeat Hamilton that assessed the glaring realisation this year’s championship is all but over. Asked for his target for the remainder of the season, Hamilton said: “To finish the rest of the races, and also work hard on trying to make sure next year’s car is quick.

“We’re still pushing for this year, but it would be sensible to focus on making sure next year’s car is faster than this year’s car.”

The McLaren star appeared to take a degree of satisfaction from the fact he had merely finished the race at Monza, and highlighting the goal was to see the chequered flag in the closing six grands prix. That is an insight into his mindset given the fierce criticism that followed his crash in Belgium a fortnight ago.

After a 24-lap duel with Michael Schumacher during which Hamilton surprisingly complained to his team about the German’s excessive weaving to defend his position, Hamilton finally edged past.

“I’m glad I finished the race,” added Hamilton. “I showed people I can drive cleanly and not get into trouble even if the guy in front makes it very difficult for me. I got by eventually and made it stick, so it was good.”

Asked about Hamilton’s desire to simply finish races and whether he had been mentally affected by the flak that followed his Spa shunt, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “I don’t think so. He is a tough cookie who just wants to win. He will very shortly bang in that win and look fantastic. It’s a shame it wasn’t here, so we’ll see if he can do it in two weeks’ time. 

“Here there was a fair amount of provocation and frustration in the race. I think someone (Schumacher) drove him off the circuit pretty aggressively at one point. At the first corner he could have stuck in for second and lost a wing.

"He was calmer than I was at that stage, so congratulations to him on that. He is growing and developing, and I’m sure he’s going to win more races this year and put some of the other issues further behind him.”