LONDON (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton expects Silverstone to feel “super-weird” as he heads back to Britain on top of the Formula One world championship standings.
The first three races in Austria and Hungary have been held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that will remain the case at what was the best attended circuit on the calendar last year.
Silverstone will host the British Grand Prix on Aug. 2, followed by the 70th anniversary Grand Prix the weekend after.
Hamilton spoke before winning Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix for Mercedes of how much energy he had gained from just seeing a few fans at the airport in Budapest and how much they were missed at the track.
“The British Grand Prix is the best grand prix, particularly because of the fans, the thousands that turn up and really create the spectacle,” said Britain’s six times world champion. “So it’s going to be super-weird.
“That is something I think I am still coming to terms with,” added Hamilton.
Speaking after the 86th win of his career, and record eighth in Hungary, Hamilton said he understood the circumstances and was just grateful to be able to go racing again.
“But absolutely, the atmosphere for me, it’s night and day different,” he said of racing past empty grandstands in the ‘new normal’.
Hamilton has won a record six times at Silverstone, celebrating in the past by crowd-surfing and soaking up the applause and warmth of the fans.
With Mercedes in a class of their own, and the circuit hosting two races back-to-back, there is every likelihood of him adding to his tally.
“The whole year... it’s the highlight of my year, the support is insane,” he said.
“It grows every year and I get to interact with the fans differently on that weekend and it’s such an honour and privilege to be able to perform well and win a Grand Prix in your home country.
“I’ve also felt that fans give you extra time because they just give you so much energy and it really lifts you up and you’re bubbling, you’re walking on a cloud.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris
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