Lewis Hamilton’s London no-show helped him become the main act at Silverstone

Matt Majendie 22:59 16/07/2017
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It is 10 years ago since Lewis Hamilton lined up for his first British Grand Prix, a handful of races into his Formula 1 career and already the blistering boy wonder of the sport.

A decade on and his career has undulated from the great highs of three world championships to the fallow years of frustration languishing for a time in the middle of the pack and, occasionally, towards the back of the grid.

In that intervening time, there has been all manner of criticism, be it the outbursts in the earlier years to his chosen lifestyle outside the confines of his Mercedes car, with a seeming penchant to mix with rappers and Hollywood A-listers.

It was such life choices that saw him arrive at Silverstone for an 11th British Grand Prix weekend very much in the firing line.

Hamilton had opted against appearing at F1 Live London, the first time in the history of the championship that all the teams had gathered with their respective machinery at an event outside of a grand prix weekend.

That he was the sole no show was met with scorn by his public scrutineers, who suggested the star British driver owed it to his home crowd to show his face and put the Merc through its paces in England’s capital however briefly.

But instead Hamilton opted for a short break in Greece, an escape from the rat race of F1 and a chance he said to recharge his batteries and best prepare him for the weekend ahead where he would be the marked man by fans, fellow drivers and the media as a whole.

Two day holiday before the greatest race weekend of the year!! #blessed #greatful #GodIsTheGreatest

A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on

His no show was met by boos on London’s streets – more for those of a pantomime villain it has to be said rather than a great British public baying for his blood.

But what his controversial decision meant was that he thoroughly had to back that up with a resounding weekend of dominance, and how he did that.

His lap to pole drew parallels to his idol and fellow three-time world champion Ayrton Senna such was his level above everyone else.

And come the race he was in a league of his own for a record fifth British Grand Prix win, so clear was he that the cameras barely showed him, instead focusing on the battles and chaos that ensued behind him.

At the time of his London disappearing act, it seemed right to criticise. After all, here was a driver that takes more stock perhaps than others on his fanbase or the ‘HamFam’ as he has been known to refer to it on social media.

Not for the first time, he was taken aback by the level of animosity that went his way as a result of going for his decision to go AWOL in such a pivotal week.

But Hamilton made the point that, while he loved his fans, his overriding focus was on winning the British Grand Prix and putting himself in the best possible position to claw back the deficit to main title rival Sebastian Vettel. Such was the impact on his on-track activities, it was a case of Greece lightning for Mercedes’ star man.

And what of the British public? Any boos there might have been in London – admittedly much of that coming from a new wave of fans than the usual Silverstone throngs – had dissipated.

The crowd lapped up his every move – as they have done for a good decade – and he delivered the only thing that mattered, yet another British winner.

Hamilton celebrated with the crowd post race.

Hamilton celebrated with the crowd post race.

Come the end of the race, F1 Live London was but a footnote, Hamilton once more the man of the moment – the place he craves to be – and well and truly back in the title fight with Vettel having something of a weekend to forget.

Hamilton is far better placed than his critics to know the best path to pursue to prepare himself for a race car, and Mercedes know it too.

It was telling that team boss Toto Wolff backed him to the hilt for his decision over the London event, even though it was a bit of a PR disaster for the team at the time.

They know that a happy Hamilton is a quick Hamilton, which at the end of the day is all that matters.

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