British GP: Lewis Hamilton relishing ‘special’ Silverstone as he bids for record win

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Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have a go at Sky F1's foot darts challenge

Lewis Hamilton has defended Mercedes following their reliability and strategic failures at the Austrian GP – and says he is fully motivated to bounce back with a win in front of his British fans this weekend.

Hamilton has fallen one point behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the title standings following the last race in Spielberg, where the Mercedes driver lost the lead due to Mercedes strategy error before retiring due to a fuel issue.

But while the world champions did not have long to recover and solve the problem before the British GP, Hamilton says the reaction has been “incredible” and he still has full faith in the Silver Arrows.

British GP underway on Sunday at 2.10pm, Sky F1 coverage from 12.30pm

“It was a difficult weekend but whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” Hamilton said. “The spirit within the team is stronger than it’s ever been.

“These experiences that we’ve been having, and how we’ve been handling them, has really united us more than any other year and there’s a great energy within the team. Whilst it was a painful experience it actually brought us closer and made us stronger. The team are super on it and confident that we’ve done everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“You go in with the same mentality as the last weekend – hoping for the car to be reliable. You can never predict what’s going to happen but that’s not getting in my way and I’m pretty certain that for the majority of people in the team they’re not letting that get in their way either.”

Though Mercedes only say they are hopeful of avoiding grid penalties at Silverstone this weekend – Valtteri Bottas also suffered a DNF – Hamilton insists the team designed a “fix” to both cars after Austria.

“It’s inspiring me to keep pushing and I truly believe in these guys,” he explained to Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz.

Hamilton continued: “If I’m really honest I’m grateful that it’s happened because it was going to happen at some stage.

“I’m only one point behind and it could have been a lot worse. I’m just going to try and keep the pressure on and try and perform as I have the last couple of races and it’s going to continue to be a close season.”

3:32 Ted Kravitz and David Croft discuss Mercedes’ Austria issues and whether Fernando Alonso is calling the shots at McLaren

On the strategy call, where Hamilton was mistakenly kept out after Bottas’ retirement brought out a Virtual Safety Car, the four-time world champion again backed the Silver Arrows and James Vowles, who took responsibility for the error.

“The amount of simulations that go on, the amount of information, there’s a lot of tough calls for each team to make,” Hamilton said.

“I hope it’s not a title decider but I can’t predict what’s going to happen going forwards – all I know is we are constantly getting better and improving. I really do feel like I’ve got the best strategist team behind me. Look how many wins I’ve had with this team.

“We’ve had far, far more successes than we’ve had failures. Nobody’s perfect and that’s just the way the sport is, there’s no way to be perfect.”

2:38 Sky F1's Simon Lazenby and Martin Brundle discuss the big talking points ahead of the British GP from Silverstone

Hamilton relishing ‘special’ Silverstone crowd
Silverstone is Hamilton territory.

The Englishman has already won five times on home soil and is seeking a record-breaking fifth victory in succession in front of his adoring crowd.

“It’s difficult to put into words how special it feels when people come and support, you see the flags flying,” said Hamilton.

“There’s something incredibly special about the British sporting fans, there’s just an energy that’s die-hard. When you’re on the receiving end of that, I can’t express to you how crazy that feeling is. It’s one of the most special feelings ever.

“What you want to do is just give back in whatever way you can which is ultimately getting the result so that they can blow up in their energy or get to actually see them during the weekend.”

With the England football team already surpassing expectations at the World Cup, Hamilton knows he could complete a remarkable weekend of sporting success for the country if he can prevail again at Silverstone.

“It’s been a really incredible journey since 2007, coming here and just to be riding this positive wave every time you come to this grand prix. I’m really grateful to be in the position to fight for a win here at Silverstone for the sixth time, I’m very privileged in that respect.

“And the support is unlike anywhere else. The atmosphere here is just incredible throughout this weekend, particularly when the weather is good. The hope is always that you can deliver, arrive in good form and perform and that’s what I’m going to try and do.”

It’s summer, it’s Silverstone and it’s the 2018 British Grand Prix! Don’t miss a minute of Sky F1’s extensive coverage – featuring 2009 world champion Jenson Button – across the weekend. Sunday’s race begins at 2.10pm with build-up from 12.30pm Get Sky Sports F1.

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