Lewis Hamilton joked that he stands no chance of winning Formula One’s proposed race in Miami next year because there are “so many distractions”.
The City of Miami Commission announced on Wednesday that it would vote on a street race next week. A further vote would then be put to Miami County later this month, and, if both are approved, the sport will be given the green light to stage a race in downtown Miami in October of next year.
F1 is set to face opposition from a series of local groups, with large parts of the city to be affected by the tabled event, but sources are confident that a deal will now be struck, and saw Wednesday’s announcement as a huge step to reaching an agreement.
Hamilton, who holds a four-point championship lead over Sebastian Vettel following his somewhat fortunate triumph in Azerbaijan last weekend, has been known to party in Miami, and jokingly admitted that it might be hard to concentrate only on the race.
“My friend messaged me about Miami, and I was like ‘I’m not winning that race because Miami is exciting, it is awesome and it is a great party spot’,” a grinning Hamilton said.
“Oh jeez, it is going to be a hard weekend. I might have to stay out of town. There are a lot of beautiful women (in Miami) and there is going to be so many distractions.”
Hamilton, 33, was speaking at a UBS sponsors’ event in London. The Englishman also revealed he visited Mercedes’ factory in Brackley, Northamptonshire on Wednesday as he, and his world championship-winning team, bid to build on their opening victory of the season in Baku.
Hamilton did not enjoy his finest weekend, but ended a near 200-day losing streak by virtue of a series of race-turning incidents.
“This is definitely the toughest year I have experienced and the team are going through a lot of pressure now,” Hamilton added.
“He (Vettel) has got a bloody good car and it is going to take every ounce of me, and all those that are working with me, to finish ahead of him.”
Hamilton’s opening win of his title defence arrived against the backdrop of Bernie Ecclestone’s claim that the Brit is no longer the racer he was, and sensed he is becoming disillusioned with the sport.
Hamilton is yet to sign an extension to his Mercedes contract which expires at the end of the season.
“This year I have been super, super focused,” Hamilton added, seemingly in response to Ecclestone’s claim. “There are always comments: ‘Is Lewis focused?’ ‘Is he the same as he was last year?’ I have actually dedicated myself even more than I did last year.
“I don’t know how many years left of racing I have got, but I can tell you right now that I am enjoying it more than I ever had, even when we haven’t had the wins, because of the journey and the travel that I get to do.
“As you get older, you get wiser, and your vision opens up. You are absorbing new things and I realise now that I am part of a new culture in racing, hopefully drawing new people to it, and I am still at the forefront of it.”
Formula One could stage a race on the streets of downtown Miami as early as next season.
A meeting of the City of Miami Commission have announced that they will put the sport’s proposal to a vote next Thursday and, if approved, will provide the green light for a grand prix to be staged in 2019.
Liberty Merida, F1’s American owners, are keen to add further races in the United States beyond the one grand prix already held in Austin, Texas.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Sauber sensation Charles Leclerc made the most of a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday to clinch sixth place and his first points in Formula One.
The Monaco native started his race from P13 on the grid, but skillfully pulled his way up to eighth early on before fending off Fernando Alonso to take a stunning sixth.
It was a emotional finish for the 20-year-old as 12 months ago he secured a GP2 victory around the same streets – just four days after his father Herve passed away.
Despite the emotional turmoil that would have ensued that day and even at the weekend when returning to Azerbaijan, Leclerc showcased the class that has been associated with his name since clinching the GP2 title last October.
The Monaco native grew up in a home steeped in motorsport and was even the godson of the late F1 driver Jules Bianchi who died after crashing in Suzuka in 2014.
Leclerc had first driven a kart at Bianchi’s track near Nice and the Frenchman had been both a mentor and close friend of the young Sauber driver.
The former GP2 and GP3 champion has demonstrated maturity beyond his years in dealing with the loss of Herve and Jules at such a young age and has gone on to develop remarkably as a driver and man.
In Baku on Sunday, the youngster drove smart in the treacherous conditions to bring Sauber its best race finish since Felipe Nasr at the Russia Grand Prix in 2015.
Remarkably, he drove more laps in the top-10 in Baku than his teammate Marcus Ericsson did for Sauber in the entire 2017 season.
Leclerc had started the race in P13, which in itself was a personal best grid slot having started from 18th, 19th and 19th in the first three races.
In fact his best finishes prior to Baku were 13th, 14th and 19th respectively – with Ericsson retiring in Australia and notching 9th and 16th places in Bahrain and China.
With Leclerc’s eight points added to the two that Ericsson netted in Bahrain, Sauber now have 10 points in the constructors’ championship – twice as many as they scored in the whole of 2017.
It may be a serious boost for a team lacking in ambition, but Leclerc’s biggest competition this season will be to overshadow 27-year-old Ericsson, who has spent four more years in the sport.
Whilst doing that it will open a shop window – as such – for a more experienced team to give Leclerc a better opportunity in a faster car when his contract expires in 2019.
Although he may struggle with a team who finished last in the drivers’ standings in 2017, he has to start from somewhere and this season is the perfect building block to his future development.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will all be needing replacement drivers over the next three seasons so now is the perfect time for Leclerc to step up and continue to show his mettle as a rising star and future champion.
Baku may prove to be the start of something special for Leclerc.