F1 British Grand Prix 2014: 'I'm gunning for Silverstone,' says Lewis Hamilton

The British driver tells David Tremayne he is desperate for his first home victory since 2008 to reignite his world championship challenge to team-mate Nico Rosberg

He has always made a big play about the Monaco Grand Prix because it is the jewel in the Formula One crown, but the other race Lewis Hamilton is burning to win is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, his home track.

He took pole position there in his rookie season in 2007 and won there majestically in the rain in 2008; but losing last year, when a rear tyre exploded while he was heading for victory, still really burns. Especially as the man who benefited from his misfortune that day was Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, with whom he is locked in battle for this year’s World Championship crown.

The luck has been running Rosberg’s way recently, after Hamilton clawed back the 25-point deficit conceded when he retired in the opening race, and now Hamilton wants nothing more than to kick-start a second recovery with a win in front of home fans.

“I’m definitely gunning for Silverstone,” he says ahead of this weekend’s race. “Last year I was more hopeful than ever since I won in 2008. That weekend it was definitely gutting to not win, to not bring it home for the country and for the fans. We have another chance this year and I’ll be doing absolutely everything to make sure we’re in front.”

Naturally, not winning last year was hugely disappointing, but Hamilton was bucked up to recover from last place to fourth after a never-say-die recovery drive.

“Doing that, I felt like I had won. When I have races like that I still feel like I’ve triumphed. In my mind I’ve gone away thinking I’ve won.

Hamilton celebrates his 2008 triumph at Silverstone Hamilton celebrates his 2008 triumph at Silverstone “It’s quite a huge challenge. You get a puncture just as you’ve gone past the pits, you tiptoe around without spinning, and then you get new tyres and just gun it. At the time you don’t know where you are. You’re hoping that you’re going to win and with maybe another 10 laps I would’ve had a chance to. I really felt like I had done myself proud that day.”

Starting this weekend, he is going to need another four consecutive victories like those he took in Malaysia, China, Bahrain and Spain, in order to close the 29-point gap to Rosberg, who has finished all eight races thus far, while Hamilton has had two retirements. The odds say Rosberg’s car will also falter at some time, but Hamilton is a racer and is adamant that he does not even want to consider that.

“I want Nico to finish every race. But I want to finish ahead of him. If he finishes every race and I finish ahead then you can’t say I’m in the lead because he’s had problems, it can only be that I’ve done a better job.”

The world knows that they have been mates – though not absolute best friends, as Hamilton stressed recently – ever since they were karting together as kids.

“One time, when we were in Italy, we were talking about how cool it would be one day if we were in Formula One. At the time the big team was McLaren Mercedes, and we said just how cool it would be to be team-mates. We said it several times. I can’t remember if I really believed back then. Nico would say ,‘When I’m in Formula One…’ And for me it was, ‘If I ever get to Formula One.’ Because Nico’s dad was a Formula One driver so there was no other course – he knew he was going to make it. For us we never really knew what was going to happen, we just kept at it.”

Unlike in 2014, when Rosberg has been proving such a robust challenger, the German was not Hamilton’s toughest rival back then. “Nico was quick, but he wasn’t as fast as the strongest rival I had in karting, which was Robert Kubica. He was the fastest driver I raced. It chopped and changed quite a lot in England, but when I got to Europe it was Robert. He was very, very fast, the best at the time. But he just kept blowing engines. He always had his hand down, covering the intake on the carburettor, and the engine would blow up.”

The Lewis and Nico Show has electrified the sport this season and maintained interest as their Silver Arrows have hit the performance bullseye in seven of the eight races. But despite Rosberg’s speed, Hamilton says it has not been tougher than he expected.

“It isn’t, because I didn’t come into it thinking it was going to be easy. I knew from the get-go it was going to be really close.

“Back in the karting days we didn’t really have data. One time there was a system that came out called the PI System, and they had this data pack. We eventually had that, but still you couldn’t really see the speed trace. The cool thing back then was that if you were in a team of kids they couldn’t ever see how you drove, apart from on the track. They might follow your line but it’s harder to follow on the line than it is to look on data. When you get data it’s like showing someone’s mathematics equation.

“So I knew it was going to be a difficult season. It was a real reminder after Malaysia. I used a lot of different skills in Malaysia to pull the gap that I did, but it’s very transparent. Whatever advantage Nico gets I can see it on the telemetry that we have access to, and vice versa, so that makes it very difficult to extend an advantage.”

 When asked the toughest question of all – how hard it will be if he doesn’t win the title this year, in other words, if Rosberg beats him – Hamilton replies equably, without heat.

“That’s not really something I want to think about or put out there. Why would I even consider it? It’s all about positive energy. You’ve got to have in your mind, ‘I’m going to win. I’m going to do everything that I can. I’m going to get up and I’m going to train and get to that race next week and be P1, P1, P1.’ You can’t ever think ‘what if this?’ or ‘what if that?’ because you’ll never get anywhere. What’s that expression? Positive thoughts create positive actions…”

On another positive note, he was recently deemed the world’s most marketable sportsman. “I heard something about that,” he says. “Ultimately, it doesn’t really mean much but it’s cool to be recognised as one of the top sportsmen. I admire so many different sports and I like to meet some of those individuals that are at the top of their game in those sports. It’s good that we share something in common, we can travel round the world and be recognised.”

And it suits his off-track aspiration nicely. “Ultimately, I don’t want to just be a driver; I would hope that I’ve had a positive influence on the kids I saw today here at Rye House [the karting circuit where his career began]. Maybe after today they’ll want to come back and do some go-karting. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Maybe they don’t have the money. But just that little spark that you can create could turn into a huge fire…”

Home Runs: Hamilton at Silverstone

2007 McLaren, third

Took ninth successive podium with a third-place finish from pole as Kimi Raikkonen won.

2008 McLaren, first

Passed Heikki Kovalainen in heavy rain to become the first home winner in eight years on his way to a maiden title.

2009 McLaren, 16th

Disappointing season continued as he failed to score.

2010 McLaren, second

Finished behind Mark Webber for his fourth successive podium finish.

2011 McLaren, fourth

Finished out of the top three as Fernando Alonso eased to victory.

2012 McLaren, eighth

Dropped to fourth in the standings after failing to impress in front of home fans as Webber triumphed again.

2013 Mercedes, fourth

Fell away from pole and suffered an early tyre failure, leaving team-mate Nico Rosberg to take the victory.

There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick