Hamil­ton drives his way back into the fans’ hearts

The Times (South Africa) - - SPORT -

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 pro- mo­tional 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 125 000 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.” —

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.