In Depth

Is Hamilton still the fans' favourite at Silverstone?

Three-times world champion booed for missing an event in London, but remains unapologetic

Lewis Hamilton can earn a place in F1 folklore this weekend by becoming the third man to win the British Grand Prix five times.

However, the achievement might not spark wild celebrations if fans' reaction to his absence from an event in London this week is anything to go by.

The triple world champion was the only F1 driver missing from the line-up in Trafalgar Square. Hamilton had chosen to go on holiday ahead of this weekend's race and his name was greeted with boos when it was read out.

Skipping the event "proved a public-relations nightmare", says Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph, which claims Hamilton flew a group of friends to Mykonos on a private jet for a mini-break instead.

"Hamilton's choice not to turn up seemed at odds with his frequent statements about the importance of establishing rapport with fans," the journalist continues. "But he insisted it was the correct one after two draining races in Azerbaijan and Austria, where he has ­finished outside the podium."

Hamilton is unapologetic, saying he needed a break because the season was so "intense". He is aiming to join Jim Clark and Alain Prost on five wins in the British Grand Prix this weekend.

However, his "refusal to embark on a damage limitation exercise" has overshadowed the build-up to the race says Richard Tanner of the Daily Express.

"It would have eased some of the heat on Hamilton if some of the other drivers had pulled out. But all the other 19 - including world championship rival Sebastian Vettel - showed up… And it might not have mattered quite so much if the event had been on the other side of the world, not five days before his home Grand Prix," he adds. 

"Hamilton clearly believes a win on Sunday will justify his midweek no-show, especially if he goes on to lift his fourth world title. Many will certainly forgive him but few are likely forget." 

As ever with Hamilton, there may be more to the situation than meets the eye. It has been suggested he skipped the event because he was angry with his team about rumours linking Sebastian Vettel with a move to Mercedes.

The two men are at daggers drawn after an incident in Baku, when Vettel drove into Hamilton. The British driver was also "raging" after discovering team principal Toto Wolff had attended Vettel's 30th birthday party.

The Daily Mail suggests that could have influenced his decision to "snub" the event in London.

To make matters worse for Hamilton, Vettel was roundly cheered by the crowds in London on Wednesday.

"Hamilton could well become a Silverstone legend this weekend." says Adam Hay-Nicholls of Metro. "It'll be ironic if the fans are cheering on the German and, should Lewis get booed in person this time, it will shock and hurt him."

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