Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

Lewis Hamilton left with 'really empty feeling' at prospect of Formula One races without fans due to coronavirus

British driver also admits that he is enjoying the unexpected break and feels 'fresher and healthier' as a result

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has said he feels "fresher than ever" following an unexpected break from Formula One.

But he also admitted that the thought of racing without fans due to the coronavirus left him with a "really empty feeling".

The start of the 2020 Grand Prix season has been delayed until July by the coronavirus, with 10 races out of what should have been a record 22-event championship either cancelled or postponed.

Hamilton, however, is trying to make the most of the downtime ahead of his bid for a record-equalling seventh world title.

"There have been times in the past five years that I thought a rest would be good for body and mind," he said in a video released by his Mercedes team on Saturday.

"For an athlete in their prime, it's never a good thing to step away for a year.

“Technology moves so fast and at such a rate, to stay on top of this car and what is the development. To take a sabbatical is just not on the cards.

"But we’ve been handed almost a part sabbatical, which I’m enjoying and I feel fresher and healthier.

"The struggle is for everyone I think is just keeping [the] mind clear, I think some days you’re sluggish and another day you’re positive."

The 2020 season is now set to start in July with the Austrian Grand Prix – the first of several races scheduled to take place with fans as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19.

“It gave me a really empty feeling,” he said on the idea of behind-closed-doors racing. “The fans really make the race, and around the world, the more fans, the more atmosphere you have, like at Silverstone and Monza, so it is going to be very empty.”

But the 35-year-old British driver also admitted that getting back on the track could be beneficial.

“I am getting messages from people around the world who are struggling through this period because they are not getting to watch sport,” he said.

“It shows how significant sport is in people’s lives, it brings us together it is so exciting and captivating.

I don’t know how exciting it will be for people watching on tv, but it will be better than nothing.”

The absence has also reminded Hamilton about what he loves about the sport.

“It’s almost a blessing on one side because it gives you more of an appreciation of the things that you love,” he said.

“This has given me more energy and determination to keep delivering, keep working for this great team and I am excited for the future.”

Hamilton has not been among the drivers taking part in online racing, although he said he had played Call of Duty online with fellow F1 drivers Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc.

Updated: May 9, 2020 07:15 PM

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