Lewis Hamilton, Peter Bonington

Hamilton: The fans mean everything to me

Lewis Hamilton, Peter Bonington

Lewis Hamilton has spoken out for the first time about his absence from the headline grabbing F1 Live event in London, after his no show drew widespread criticism from media, fans and the Formula 1 community in general.

All 19 of his rivals on the grid were present as well as dozens of former F1 drivers who entertained the large and enthusiastic crowd. When Hamilton’s name was mentioned during the stage presentation of drivers he was boo-ed loudly by the crowd. Ironically the Briton’s title rival, Sebastian Vettel, received one of the biggest cheers on the day.

Instead of attending Formula 1’s initiative to take the sport directly to the fans, something Hamilton has often lobbied for, he opted to spend time-off in Mykonos with his entourage.

Speaking during the press conference ahead of the British Grand Prixm Hamilton said, “Everyone had the right to make their own decision. For me I felt that it has been a pretty intense season so far and, for me, I needed to prepare the best way I could this weekend. The season is the most important thing for me and that’s it.”

Despite the fact that the event was the biggest PR event in the Formula 1 history, Hamilton admitted, “I genuinely haven’t been on my phone the last couple of days. I’ve tried to switch off mostly. I’ve turned it on a couple of times to receive a message but I tried to stay away from it.”

“Personally, I feel I’ve prepared the best way I could this weekend and that’s really all I can do. Of course, people are going to have opinions about it but I’m trying to prepare the best way I can for the battle ahead of me and other people will have different ways of doing so.”

“I love this grand prix and love this race, and I don’t feel that yesterday personally plays any role in how great this weekend is for me. Every season for the last ten years it’s been incredible and growing every year. You get people who have saved up so much through the year to come up to this grand prix and you will have seen the previous years how much I have appreciated and respected that and try to give and enjoy the weekend with the fans, and that doesn’t change.”

Asked if he felt that he missed a good opportunity to interact with F1 fans, the triple World Champion replied, “I like to think I do everything I can to connect with the fans and I do have the biggest following here in Formula 1 and I communicate with them as much as I can.”

“The fans mean everything to me, they always have, and I make no secret of that and I think hopefully my commitment to the sport over the last ten years and what I do outside the sport — things that perhaps you don’t comment on, such as when I go to visit a hospital and spend time with young kids who can’t come to a grand prix. That’s not something you potentially report on, but that’s something that is very important to me and that’s where I feel I like to put my energy mostly.”

“I think ultimately we have decisions to make and you have to stand firm with the decisions you make and feel proud of the decisions you make. I personally do and coming here this weekend I’m coming here to do everything I can to shine as much light and raise the flag in the best way I can, proudly, and drive the best I can.”

“The goal is to win the British Grand Prix for my home crowd and I’ve been really fortunate the last three years to do that and the yearning and the will to want to do that again is greater than ever,” added Hamilton who will be seeking his fifth win on home soil having won in 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Big Question: Is Lewis exonerated for snubbing the F1 Live event in London?