Silverstone - Lewis Hamilton arrived at his home race Thursday to face a barrage of questions about his absence from Wednesday’s F1 Live event in London - and his personal preparations for this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
His non-attendance at the promotional event in the capital was the most topical subject as he and championship leader Sebastian Vettel reconvened at the Silverstone circuit for the 10th round of this year’s title race.
"I've tried to prepare the best that I can by being very relaxed over the past few days," said Hamilton, who slipped 20 points adrift of the four-time champion at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix where he started eighth on the grid, thanks to a five-place penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change on his Mercedes car.
"I'm excited for the weekend as always. The championship is the most important thing so coming to the home of motorsport and such an intense weekend, as every year, it is a ‘must win’ for a British driver so I've tried to prepare the best I could."
Hamilton, seeking a fourth consecutive home win and a fifth overall, said he had spent two days away on holiday in Greece to escape from the pressures of Formula One between the two races.
He said he had not followed events in London.
"I genuinely haven't been on my phone for the past couple of days," he said. "I've been trying to switch off… I turned it on a couple of times to receive messages, but other times I've tried to stay away from it.
"People will have opinions about it, but I am trying the best I can and as it is a very intense season I am trying to prepare the best I can for the battle."
The three-time champion Englishman was the only current driver to miss the London event.
His absence and the backlash it prompted from some fans and sections of the British media was an unexpected slice of luck for rival Vettel, who was widely expected to be represented as the villain of the traditional ‘soap opera’ coverage of the F1 race weekend.
The sport’s new American owners Liberty Media made their dissatisfaction clear to the media and several drivers and other F1 figures claimed that the event in central London was a significant step in reaching out to existing fans and engaging a new audience.
Hamilton said he did “everything I can to genuinely connect" with his supporters already.
He explained: "I do have the biggest following here in F1 and communicate with them as much as I can. Fans mean everything to me. They always have and I make no secret of that.
"What I do outside the sport - such as when I go and visit a hospital and spend time with young kids who can't come to a Grand Prix – that is not something you potentially report on, but that is very important to me.
"That is where I feel I like to put my energy mostly. We have decisions to make and you have to stand by them and feel proud and I do.
"The goal is to win the British Grand Prix for the home crowd. I've been really fortunate in the last few years to do that and the yearning and the will to want to do that again is greater than ever."