Lewis hailed by Mercedes and MansellComment on this story
Brackley, Northamptonshire - Lewis Hamilton continued the festivities that accompanied his victory at Silverstone by spending time with his engineers and mechanics - and the real gold trophy that goes to the winner of the British Grand Prix - at the Mercedes factory in Brackley on Monday.
He was greeted by a standing ovation from about 500 staff and was sportingly applauded by Nico Rosberg, his team-mate and World Championship rival.
But Hamilton revealed that some of the biggest support he received over a tumultuous weekend came from another English hero of the track, Nigel Mansell. The four-times winner of the British Grand Prix was a consoling influence after Hamilton’s mistake in qualifying consigned him to start from sixth on the grid.
‘Nigel has been hugely supportive this weekend and this year.”
Hamilton said: “I can’t believe how good it is to have his support after watching him when I was really young and seeing what he had achieved.
“He said hello to me on the grid, just saying that he was proud of me and was rooting for me. It was really cool. Of all the past drivers, his support has meant the most.”
Hamilton’s win, which was a formality after Rosberg retired with gearbox failure, took him to 27 career wins, level with Sir Jackie Stewart. Hamilton accomplished the feat in 138 races; Stewart in 99. Only one British driver, Mansell, has won more often: 31 times -in 187 races - a record that Hamilton is almost certain to overtake, conceivably this season.
“I want to win the World Championship so I am not focused on that part, but just to be among those drivers is huge privilege,” said Hamilton, who was happy to have the gold RAC Trophy with him on Monday, having been dismayed to be presented with a plastic sponsor trophy on Sunday.
“Looking at that trophy and seeing Nigel, James Hunt, Jim Clark and all the greats on there is so cool. They don’t have my name on it, I don’t know why - there’s no space.”
The scenes of jubilation at Silverstone were an echo of the Mansell-mania of the Eighties and Nineties.
Hamilton reacts to acclaim and criticism more sensitively than most drivers — “positive energy” is one of his favoured phrases — so the Silverstone fillip is important ahead of Rosberg’s home race at Hockenheim, Germany in a fortnight.
As Hamilton pointed out, Rosberg is not a thoroughgoing, lederhosen-wearing German. His father Keke is Finnish and he lives in Monaco, though his mother Sina is German and her country is the one for which he has competed in Formula One.
“Nico has never actually lived in Germany, so it is not really his home race,” said Hamilton.
“When I was racing karts he didn’t stand next to a German flag ever, ever.”
“They would go on the start line and all the drivers would have to stand next to the grid girl. The girls would be holding the flag or the sign saying Hungary or whatever and he always stood by Monaco.”
Hamilton’s win at Silverstone took him from 29 points to four points behind Rosberg in the standings, with nine of the 19 races completed.
“Reliability is going to be a key part.”
He said, with relief: ‘I’ve been on the back foot since the first race (when he retired with technical trouble).
“You just never know when you are going to have a problem. Who would have known that Nico would have had one at Silverstone?”
Hamilton and Rosberg will test at Silverstone this week but Kimi Raikkonen, of Ferrari, will be absent after suffering ankle and knee injuries in his 47G crash on Sunday. He hopes to return for Rosberg’s ‘home’ race.