Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2017

Formula One: Globetrotting Lewis ever ready

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (centre) is mobbed by fans at a private meet-and-greet session at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia yesterday.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (centre) is mobbed by fans at a private meet-and-greet session at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia yesterday.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Hamilton knows what it takes to win here for a third time, Bottas also positive

First, he hung out with celebrities like Heidi Klum and Winnie Harlow at New York Fashion Week. Then, he landed in Frankfurt to unveil the new Mercedes-AMG Project One.

In the past five days alone, Lewis Hamilton has been in two different countries on two different continents, flying halfway around the world before landing here.

Yet, when fans and the media wondered how he would cope for this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, where he has had a chequered record, the Mercedes man was unfazed.

"I'm not really one for confidence," said the three-time world champion. "I arrive, just prepare myself the best I can. I know how to drive, so it's not a confidence thing. You want to do your best the whole time."

Despite his well-documented struggles on the Marina Bay Street Circuit - he has won only twice (2009 and 2014) despite dominant machinery - Hamilton remains optimistic.

The Briton, who recently claimed victories at Belgium and Italy - the first driver this season to win back-to-back races - said: "Providing we put together what we're working on - understanding the set-up - if I drive the way I've been driving, we should be in a good place."

He was certainly in a good place yesterday when he made his first public appearance in Singapore this round at a meet-and-greet session at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia.

ONE COOL CUSTOMER

I'm not really one for confidence. I arrive, just prepare myself the best I can.

LEWIS HAMILTON, Mercedes driver and three-time world champion.

The 32-year-old arrived in style at the event, attended by about 400 guests, in a new Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Saloon - with him not driving a Silver Arrow for once. Models were also showcasing the new Boss Fall/ Winter 2017 collection.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who signed a one-year extension on Wednesday, was also present as the pair were welcomed by warm applause. They will hope that the support can spur them on track this Sunday as they target a tough victory.

In the week leading up to the night race, Mercedes have admitted that the twisty nature of the 23-turn circuit favours title rivals Ferrari and Red Bull. However, Bottas is undaunted by the challenge.

The 28-year-old, who lies third (197 points) in the drivers' championship, said: "(A win) is definitely possible. What has been cool this year, at every single race I go to, is always a chance for the win.

"It makes a big difference on how you approach the weekend. There's always a possibility so I try everything I can to get another win."

Championship leader Hamilton (238 points) added: "Every year's been different. Last year, we just didn't have the pace. There was something in my set-up that I was not able to do.

"It's a long track so there are a lot of corners to accommodate in your set-up. We've worked on track to understand that, hopefully we can start on the better foot this weekend."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2017, with the headline 'Globetrotting Lewis ever ready'. Print Edition | Subscribe