Lewis Hamilton stayed onside with his Brazilian fans ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix by calling up soccer star Neymar ahead of a big weekend for the Briton’s bid for a record eighth Formula 1 championship.
The Mercedes driver told reporters he hoped to watch his friend in a World Cup qualifier between five-times F1 champions Brazil and Colombia at the home of Sao Paulo’s Corinthians on Thursday night.
“I’m very much in contact with Neymar, quite often, we were just talking actually earlier today,” explained the Briton at a news conference for team sponsor Petronas. “I know he’s playing tomorrow, I really want to go and watch the game.
“But I’m not only a fan of their footballers because Brazil also has great stars like Ayrton Senna who has been a great example for me, and I strive to become that influential with people so that I can create real change,” added Hamilton.
F1 drivers have only media duties on Thursday with track action getting underway on Friday, with practice and a qualifying session for Saturday’s sprint race.
Hamilton is 19 points adrift of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the championship with four races remaining, including Interlagos. Mercedes are only a point ahead of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
Neymar says Hamilton is a brother from another mother
This season has been one of the closest and hard-fought of recent years, with the lead swinging between the two contenders, and Hamilton hoped next year could be even more competitive with new rules and cars.
He said that should make a difference when it came to getting more grip from the tyres and also reducing the turbulence of following another car.
“They have developed this new car so you can use less downforce while following another car, so we are really hoping that the racing is going be the best that F1 has ever seen,” Hamilton predicted.
The new cars will feature larger 18-inch wheels with covers and simpler front and rear wings designed to make it easier for drivers to overtake.
Paris St Germain forward Neymar and Hamilton have hung out on several occasions in the past, with the Brazilian once referring to the F1 champion as a ‘brother from another mother’ with the footballer a guest of the Mercedes driver, at races, on several occasions. (Reporting by Gabriel Araujo)