x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hamilton wants his actions to do the talking on F1 track

The Briton says he will not be found talking up his chances of success though he has had many run-ins with the stewards for shooting off his mouth.

McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton looked relaxed at a press conference in Montreal yesterday.
McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton looked relaxed at a press conference in Montreal yesterday.

MONTREAL, Canada // Lewis Hamilton knows Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix offers McLaren-Mercedes their greatest opportunity to derail the Red Bull Racing express.

Hamilton has won at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve twice in three races, while victory last year saw his England-based team equal Ferrari's record of 11 race wins in Montreal.

Yet, while the 26-year-old Briton may finish the weekend on the podium, he is in no rush to be placed on a pedestal as well, and will not be found talking up his chances of success.

"I never like to go into a race weekend as favourite," Hamilton said. "I am not Muhammad Ali, I am not going to come here and say this weekend is going to be the best weekend ever. I would rather do my talking on the track."

Had Hamilton applied such a philosophy in Monaco two weeks ago, he would have avoided several uncomfortable questions yesterday as he was forced to apologise once again to his fellow drivers and the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), world motor sports governing body.

Following an aggressive race in Monte Carlo, where he caused both Ferrari's Felipe Massa and the Williams driver Pastor Maldonado to retire, he was called in front of the race stewards for the fifth time in six races.

Afterwards he labelled his rivals as "ridiculous" and wondered aloud whether he was being investigated by FIA stewards "because I am black".

Muhammad Ali often cited racism as a reason why he was portrayed in a negative light during his boxing career, but he rarely expressed regret for his outbursts.

Hamilton has since been forced to write a letter of apology to Jean Todt, the FIA president, and has also spoken to Massa - by telephone - and Maldonado - in person - to explain his comments.

"I would prefer not to be up in the stewards' office, but my whole life I was always in the headmaster's office, so I am used to it and will just try to improve the situations I get into," he said yesterday.

"I am a passionate driver; I can't emphasise just how passionate I am about racing and winning and the pressure you put on yourself sometimes makes you say the wrong things.

"We all know what it's like to be under pressure. We all have bad days in the office - and that was definitely one of my worst days in the office - but I've had a couple of days back at home, refreshing my mind and I am looking forward to a more positive weekend now.

"I feel like I am in a good headspace, so hopefully that can lead to a good result."

Hamilton remains the only driver this season to finish a race ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel after McLaren employed a superior strategy in April's Chinese Grand Prix and while he was quick to play down the significance of his record in Canada, he conceded that this weekend provided himself and teammate Jenson Button — who finished third last time out in Monaco and also completed a McLaren one-two finish here last year — with a great chance for a race win.

"[Red Bull] have been faster at every circuit" Hamilton said. "They have been incredibly successful so far and you have to assume they will be very quick here as well. Perhaps the gap will be a little bit smaller than we saw in Barcelona, but looking at the next few races, this is one of the better ones for us, probably."

The FIA have ruled that the Drag Reduction System — an adjustable rear wing that can usually only be activated during a race at one specific section of the track and only when close behind another car — will be available at two separate zones on Sunday.

Hamilton said the decision will result in more overtaking on a track that is traditionally already conducive to on-track passing.

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae