Hamilton drives his way back into the fans' hearts

18 July 2017 - 08:49 By AFP
Winner Lewis Hamilton is celebrated by fans after the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in  England.
Winner Lewis Hamilton is celebrated by fans after the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in England.
Image: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP PHOTO

Booed and disparaged before the race, unconventional Lewis Hamilton silenced his critics and rebooted his bid for a fourth world title with a record-equalling fifth British Grand Prix victory.

The three-times world champion claimed his 67th pole position and his 57th grand prix victory on Sunday to move within a point of championship leader Sebastian Vettel, seventh in his Ferrari after a late puncture.

But prior to the triumph, Hamilton was under a cloud after failing to show up for a pre-race promotional event in London, where his name was booed by fans and negative media coverage dominated the Mercedes driver's grand prix build-up.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, who had been dismayed by the negative reaction to Hamilton's decision to take a two-day break on the Greek island Mykonos rather than turn up to promote his sport, attempted to deflect the criticism.

"I think that sometimes he just needs the right impulse to extract maximum performance," said Wolff. "I think maybe that is an answer to the critics.

"I still don't understand why the British hero is being beaten up before the grand prix. It probably made him even more determined to show his fans how he can drive. And how he can drive ..."

Few would argue that Hamilton is not the most uniquely talented driver in the current field with a rare gift for speed in all conditions, but many prefer to point at his unconventional, by Formula One standards, lifestyle decisions.

The Briton loves travelling, music, spending time in the US and doing his own thing.

On Sunday he ended a run of two disappointing races due to problems beyond his control, with a triumph that turned the tables on the jeerers and saw him heralded as a hero by many in the vast 125000 crowd and "crowd-surfing" with groups of fans.

"I have more poles than most," he said. "I am obviously building up the wins that I have. My performance is second to none. If you don't know now that my preparation is mostly on point, then I guess you never will." 

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