Hamilton ready to feel the love in Brazil

Thu Nov 6, 2014 4:29pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton can expect the passionate Interlagos crowd to be on his side when the Formula One championship leader seeks his sixth win in a row, and 11th of the season, in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

That has not always been the case at the Sao Paulo circuit, where the local drivers can count on strong support, but this year the title battle comes down to a straight duel between Hamilton and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton, a huge boyhood fan of the late triple world champion Ayrton Senna who died in 1994, is now finding a lot of Brazilians are rooting for him -- including some of Senna's own family.

The Briton has already been presented with a large mock-up of a Brazilian passport -- complete with his details -- and a national soccer shirt courtesy of television comedy show 'Panico'.

"Tudo Bem (how are you)?," were Hamilton's opening words as he faced reporters at Interlagos on Thursday. "I've got a Brazilian passport now. I need to learn Brazilian."

The good humor was a far cry from 2008, when Hamilton ultimately prevailed over Brazilian race winner Felipe Massa by a single point to take his first title with a last corner overtake.

Six years ago, when Hamilton was at McLaren, the same comedians had tried to present him with a shirt of the Vasco da Gama club -- famed for finishing second in the championship.

They also threw an unlucky black cat toy towards him at a sponsor event, urging him to pick it up.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain receives a Brazil shirt printed with his photograph, during a media conference in Sao Paulo November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker