Greece is the word, but Hamilton needed to 'relax'

Valtteri Bottas during practice yesterday, when he produced the day's fastest lap with a time of 1min 28.496sec.
Valtteri Bottas during practice yesterday, when he produced the day's fastest lap with a time of 1min 28.496sec.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton has defended his decision to miss a preview event in London before his home Grand Prix tomorrow by saying that actions such as visiting children in hospital show how much he does for Formula One.

The Briton was the only one of the 20 drivers missing from the event in London on Wednesday - which had been arranged by Liberty Media, the new owner of the sport, in an attempt to reach more supporters.

The 32-year-old, who has been complaining that he does not get the support he deserves from British fans, chose instead to take a two-day holiday in Greece.

Hamilton said that he needed to relax before this weekend's grand prix at Silverstone owing to the intensity of this year's championship battle. He trails Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 20 points while Valtteri Bottas, his Mercedes team-mate who won the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, is behind the Briton by only 15 points.

"I felt that it's been a pretty intense season and I needed to prepare the best way I could for this weekend," said Hamilton, whose name drew boos when it was read out at the event in London.

"The season is the most important thing for me. That's it. Hopefully my commitment to the sport over the last 10 years and what I do outside of the sport, things that perhaps don't get commented on, such as when I go and visit a hospital and spend time with young kids who can't come to a grand prix.

"That's not something that you potentially report on but that's very important to me. That's where I feel I put my energy. So, ultimately, we have decisions to make and you have to stand firm with the decisions you make and feel proud of them."

Hamilton has won at Silverstone four times and, should he triumph tomorrow, he will join Jim Clark and Alain Prost with the most victories. He would also equal Clark's achievement of winning four British GPs in a row.

Yesterday he and Bottas made a statement of intent in practice by topping the timesheets.

The Finn produced a best lap of 1min 28.496sec - quicker than Hamilton's pole position time of 1:29.287 last year.

Ferrari ended the afternoon as Mercedes' closest rivals with Kimi Raikkonen third (1:28.828) - and with a spin into the gravel - and Vettel fourth (1:28.956).

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Greece is the word, but Hamilton needed to 'relax''. Print Edition | Subscribe