SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Lewis Hamilton wants an emotional home crowd to back him all the way this weekend as he seeks to claim his second win at the British Grand Prix and reboot his bid for the Formula One championship.
Hamilton, who secured victory at Silverstone in 2008 on his way to taking the title, says there is no greater satisfaction for a racing driver than winning his home event.
“I really want to win this race,” Hamilton said on Thursday. “It is a great feeling if you can do that, and the British fans are special, so I want to win for them, too.”
Hamilton trails his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 29 points after eight races in the 19-race championship.
Rosberg has finished in the top two at every race, while Hamilton has been less consistent, winning four races in a row, and retiring twice without scoring.
As Hamilton met the media at a news conference, Rosberg was able to keep out of the limelight, ducking out of tricky questions demanding the German’s response to some of Hamilton’s latest claims.
Among these, reported this week by British tabloids, were Hamilton’s suggestions that he had the superior natural talent and that this, beyond all else, would carry him to victory and give him an overall advantage.
Rosberg, widely seen as more serious and scientific in his approach to racing, told Sky Sports he did not want to talk about that question: “You know, Lewis and I have known each other well for a long time, since we were 13 years old, so I don’t think much has changed,” he said.
The title duel between the Mercedes men was the center of attention, but not the only topic of gossip in the hazy heat at Silverstone, where Felipe Massa is set to race his 200th grand prix, and Susie Wolff will on Friday become the first woman to take part in a grand prix for 22 years.
Wolff, married to Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, is set to run alongside Massa for Williams in Friday morning practice. The last woman to take part in an F1 weekend was Italian Giovanna Amati in the opening three races of 1992, when she failed to qualify her Brabham car.
“I know Susie and she has a lot of talent, she deserves it,” Hamilton said, smiling and relaxed. “But she was mostly in a higher formula than me in karting and junior racing series.”
Last year, at Silverstone, Hamilton claimed pole position for Mercedes by half a second, but after opening up a clear lead in the race, he was one of the first to suffer from a spate of spectacular tire failures.
He ended up finishing fourth while Rosberg, again showing his consistency, came home victorious.
“I have to do it this time,” Hamilton said. “I need to close the gap, but I am not expecting Nico to be forced to retire. Since the first race, in Australia, we have been very close and we both know it.
“I just have to focus and do the job. I believe in myself and my talent “
Massa, enjoying a rensaissance at Williams after a struggle in his final seasons with Ferrari, claimed pole in the last race in Austria, his first since 2008, as Williams proved their revival is for real.
He finished fourth behind teammate Valtteri Bottas as the two Mercedes drivers recovered from being off the front row of the grid for the first time to finish first and second.
“That performance proved everything we wanted as a team,” Massa said. “So we know what we can do and can do it again.”
In the wake of their football team’s early elimination from the World Cup and defending champion Andy Murray’s Wimbledon exit, the crowd and many in the British media are hoping for a home winner.
Asked about this, Hamilton smiled. “Maybe you should ask Jenson (Button, his former teammate at McLaren) … But me, seriously, I would love it. There is nothing better than that.”