Lewis Hamilton has said that he expects his McLaren to struggle on the high-speed Silverstone circuit next weekend – but promised that he will do his best to put on a show for his British fans.
In a Q&A published on the series’ official website, he moved to squash the belief that he’s had it all too easy, pointing to the many character-building years he spent in karting and junior formulas.
And he said that midfield racing, with its more straightforward approach, could still be satisfying even to someone used to the front row.
He said: “It’s all about you and the other driver: how do you get past him, how do you stay ahead, can you pass him in the pitstops?
“I’ve gone through difficult stages of karting and junior formulas as well, and I’ve also been very lucky throughout my career to have been in many top teams and driven some great cars. It is character-building.
“You have some good years, and you have some bad years, but as long as you learn from both the good and the bad then you come out a stronger person.
“With each day, I think I’m becoming a better person and a better driver because of it. I’ve been through some fantastic times with the team and I’m sure we’ll get back there soon. In the meantime, it will take discipline, determination and hard work to get back to the front.
“We might not do it this year, and we expect Silverstone to be a tough race for our car package, but it will come.”
The team is facing up to the fact that the Northamptonshire circuit could be one of the toughest races it experiences all year – with the difficulties coming on the back of Hamilton’s spectacular wet-weather victory there in 2008.
He said: “It’s clear that our car doesn’t behave well through fast corners. It’s also harder to harvest KERS there than at other circuits because there’s not too many heavy braking spots.
“To give you an idea, we don’t touch the brakes from the exit of Luffield right down to Stowe – about half the circuit – and there are no slow exits followed by long straights where you can use KERS for a boost.
“It will be difficult, but I’m looking forward to just racing in my home country, in front of my home fans, enjoying [stepmum] Linda’s home cooking and soaking it all in.”
He described some of the thrills to be had driving the circuit: “The track itself is just awesome – it’s one of the biggest buzzes you get as a Formula 1 driver.
“You come across the start/finish line in seventh gear, on a good day in qualifying you can take Copse just about flat, just scrubbing off speed with the tyres as you go, then down into Maggotts and Becketts – just an incredible feeling as you throw the car into those corners.
“Your whole body feels the g-forces as you gradually slow the car down, scrub off the speed and come down through the gears before smoothing out the exit as much as you can onto the Hangar Straight. It’s only when you get to Stowe that you actually touch the brakes. There’s nowhere else in the world where you’re off the brakes for as long as we are at Silverstone.”
He said that, far from being a one-shot deal, every lap feels incredible.
“It also goes without saying that the atmosphere the British fans create is out of this world, the support all British drivers receive at the track is phenomenal and I am looking forward to going back this year to see them again.”
This year, however, it is likely to be Jenson Button and his Brawn GP team getting the lion’s share of the attention. And Hamilton says he’s delighted the championship leader is having a chance to enjoy it.
“I’ve know Jenson for many years – he’s a fantastic driver and he thoroughly deserves the opportunity he’s been given. He’s waited years for the opportunity to drive a competitive car and, right now, he’s showing exactly what he can do with it.
“I’ve always been impressed by Jenson: before I got to Formula 1, I thought he coped with the bad times really well, he never forgot why he was there and he never let the team down. That’s why he really deserves this success.
“The reason he’s leading the world championship is because he’s not made a single mistake since the very first lap of winter testing. It’s that sort of preparation that helps you win championships – and he totally deserves to be in this position.
“It’s great for the Brawn GP team and Mercedes-Benz and it’s going to be great for the British fans because they’ll have two British drivers to support at Sliverstone.”