SILVERSTONE, U.K -- There is no doubt about who is the crowd favourite at the British Grand Prix these days, but Lewis Hamilton was still answering questions about the extent of his 'Britishness' after qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Hamilton is comfortably Britain's most successful F1 driver and has enjoyed a supreme run of success at his home race in previous years, winning five of the last six races at Silverstone. The five-time world champion is a resident in the tax haven of Monaco, something he has been criticised for by U.K. media in the past.
Despite the fact he is closing in on Michael Schumacher's all-time record of wins and world championships, some suggested in the lead-up to this week that his popularity at home has failed to match the 'Mansell Mania' of the early 1990s around Nigel Mansell. That theme continued immediately after qualifying.
When it was suggested he was not universally popular in the U.K because "you live in Monaco and your accent isn't maybe as British as others", he said there was no doubt to question the authenticity of his heritage.
"I don't think I have an answer to that," he said. "It is crazy because every driver I watched growing up, I remember watching Jenson Button, and all the youngsters come through and every one lives in Monaco and nobody ever says anything.
"No matter how often you go aboard or elsewhere in the world you come back to the U.K. and see the beautiful countryside, the history of Formula One as a sport here and I see all my family who are also here and this of course feels where my heart is.
"I feel fully British and also I still like to honour my family heritage... I don't know. People have a right to their opinions but if you look around there is a lot of Team LH caps, the support that I've had has been incredible and it has grown over the years.
"While of course there is always going to be people with negative views on it I feel like every day is an opportunity to try to turn those around that have a negative view on things. I guess maybe in time I hopefully do more and more positive things for the country.
"I go to all these races and wear the British flag proudly and there is no one else who has raised it so high. For most that might not be enough but I'll keep looking to see what else I can do. For those that do follow me I really do appreciate their support."
On Sunday Hamilton will attempt to claim a sixth British Grand Prix victory from second on the grid. Mercedes teammate and main championship rival Valtteri Bottas beat him to pole position by just 0.006s in a tense qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.
Fellow British sportsman Rio Ferdinand showed his support to Hamilton on the issue.
Lewis Hamilton facing jibes over his Britishness !!! When he lifts the titles he is reported very British...but on the way to winning, throughout the year his patriotism is questioned. Why??? The usual questions are "but you live in Monaco....your accent isn't totally British...your lifestyle travelling and fashion choices...." Firstly, most F1 drivers live in Monaco including the likes of our other former world champion Jenson Button. Was Jenson's britishness ever questioned for living in Monaco?? Not a chance. I will tell you why - because he looked similar, sounded similar, dressed similar & walked similar to the people who raise these questions of Hamilton. The level of disrespect & racist undertones in questioning Hamilton's Patriotism should not be underestimated. He prepares diligently (Five world titles tells you that), has a working formula that works for him in his down time & after proving time and time again that his preparation for racing is perfect for him, even if it means flying in from LA where he was out and about then so be it. Do I like all of the clothes Lewis Hamilton wears, the hairstyles, his music choices etc...maybe not but do I question his Britishness?? No, of course not because he is embracing young culture and experimenting like everyone does in his own way and we should be saying good luck to him I say. If all these interests outside F1 were hindering his performances then I would get the questions on his lifestyle but he is breaking records and could well win his sixth world title this year! If you can enjoy your life doing things YOUR WAY, AND WIN, then you are really really winning in life as a British sportsman - but don't forget to talk very British, dress very British, and most importantly live in the UK otherwise there will be questions on your patriotism! We should all celebrate a champion who is One Of Our Own! @lewishamilton #F1
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