Lewis Hamilton 'spurred on' for crucial French GP after Canada boos
Hamilton opens up on Canada and explains ambiguous Instagram post, while Mercedes claim fans will miss "greatest driver on the planet"; Watch French GP on Sky F1 at 2.10pm
By Matt Morlidge at Paul RIcard
Last Updated: 23/06/19 2:22pm
Lewis Hamilton has opened up on his emotions after a hotly-debated Canadian GP, claiming the boos he received on the podium "spurred" him on to claim another superb pole position in France.
The five-time world champion is now gunning for another victory.
Hamilton will start on pole in Sunday's French GP, which starts at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1, after outpacing Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying, but the weekend has been somewhat overshadowed by Ferrari's ultimately unsuccessful appeal to overturn Sebastian Vettel's penalty from Montreal, which led to a confirmed Hamilton race win.
"It's not always easy when you hear boos," Hamilton admitted as he faced the media for the first time since Canada. "But that's a part of the game and if anything it generally spurs me on."
The Briton missed Thursday's 'media day' in France due to fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld's memorial but, after Ferrari arranged a review hearing with race stewards to present 'new evidence' in the Vettel-Hamilton incident, he later posted on Instagram there was "so much hate in the world" as he prepared for his weekend at Paul Ricard.
Hamilton did not arrive at the circuit until Thursday evening, but claimed he was surprised Ferrari, who finished 0.6seconds off Mercedes in qualifying, were focusing on their appeal rather than another crucial Grand Prix.
"I think the weekend started off a little bit different, you know," Hamilton said. "We got through our programme, no problem, but if you're used to a normal four-day programme and you change it it's not always the easiest.
"For sure, it was definitely odd coming here when I heard that there was… Ferrari were spending time focusing on something else. Naturally, for me, with my team, I would be having them focus mostly on trying to improve the car."
Hamilton then expanded on his ambiguous social media post, in which he claimed "I know what's going to happen tomorrow [Friday]" and that "no matter what, you can't hold a brother down".
"I think more the reason that sometimes I express that is just because I realise firstly that I have a platform that a lot of people are going through a lot of stuff in their lives and it's never too late or soon to try and encourage," he said.
"It was the kind of words of empowerment more, just how I sometimes get low and then I'm like I'm going to get through it, I'm going to fight through it.
"I got a lot of real positive responses from a lot of my fans who… they'll write and it will be like 'I'm going through a really difficult time right now but you've just lifted me up' and so that's a great feeling when that happens.
"And my friends did the same for me, lifted me up. Came in, had a good day yesterday [Friday], slept like a baby - not exactly like a baby but like a baby last night - and came here today [Saturday] on a real positive."
Mercedes: 'We're going to miss the greatest driver on the planet'
After another superb Hamilton show, comprehensively beating Bottas and the Ferraris in qualifying, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also addressed the often-negative attention his driver receives over a race weekend, referencing those who criticised him for his role in Vettel's penalty and for missing Thursday in France.
"I think in the United Kingdom, in Britain, Lewis is not recognised how he should be recognised," Wolff told reporters in an impassioned speech
"One day he's going to stop his career with multiple records and people will say he was the greatest driver on the planet and we were witnesses of that journey - and wasn't he an interesting personality with all the things he did.
"But for whatever reason there is this idea of hitting out which maybe provides the better headline.
"I don't think [we] recognise the opportunity that we are part of, to see maybe the best driver that has ever existed on an exceptional journey."
Wolff also said he had "no problem" with Hamilton missing a day of the weekend.
"With Lewis it's about acknowledging that the days between the races are important to him to get his mind off motor racing," said the Mercedes chief.
"The best example for me in that respect was Singapore last year where he travelled to Shanghai to launch his collection, then to New York, then Europe and then Singapore.
"There were many people that said to me, 'how can you allow that?' For me, I saw the best-ever Lewis Hamilton in the seven years we've been together on that weekend in Singapore .
"So I had no problem at all with Lewis not coming on Thursday. He does it in the most respectful of way - he asks whether it is possible to come a bit later and whether it would impact the work on track, which he wouldn't have wanted it to, or whether things can be shuffled around because he wanted to visit the events in Paris which for me is no problem.
"So he called the engineers and we all agreed that it was no problem to delay the programme for a few hours."
Hamilton on dealing with sporting pressure
Hamilton also spoke to Sky F1 about how he is able to deal with the pressure of top-level sport, after a disappointing weekend for English sportsmen following defeats for the U21s in football, and the cricket team in the World Cup.
"I think it's really really hard to imagine how hard it is for people who are on top of a sport and the pressure," Hamilton told Natalie Pinkham. "Not only for themselves, wanting to excel, and know what's possible within them, but the pressure that is surrounding them. "There's so many elements that you have to keep in control.
"One day I will explain how I do it and it might be a bit more understandable but it's mostly more mental. It's something I've been working on for a long time, and jeeze, it's not like I'm new to this game.
"Generally whatever's thrown at me I'm able to rise above it or fight through it and that's really an empowering thing."
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