Lewis Hamilton has pointed the finger at the organisers of the British Grand Prix, fearing his bid for a record sixth win could be overshadowed by Wimbledon and the Cricket World Cup final.
The race at Silverstone on Sunday is set to go head to head with both the men’s Centre Court showpiece and the final of the 50-over tournament at Lord’s where England will face New Zealand.
Hamilton, 34, will start as the favourite to win his home event, and, in doing so, surpass Britain’s double world champion Jim Clark and Frenchman Alain Prost as the master of the British race.
But the Mercedes star wants the eyes of the world to be on Silverstone, demanding it as a standalone fixture of the British sporting summer.
A record crowd of more than 140,000 are expected to pass through the turnstiles on Sunday. The race will also be shown live on Channel 4 – the only one of 21 grands prix this season to be screened on free-to-air television.
“What I don’t understand is why the organisers put the race on the same day as all these big events,” said Hamilton.
“This is such a special weekend, and it needs the focus of the whole country on it. I come here to raise the flag and do the country proud.”
Hamilton holds a 31-point championship lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas having won six of the nine races so far. The 34-year-old has also taken the chequered flag at four of the last five races staged here at Silverstone.
“I’m not really one for records so if it doesn’t happen this weekend it’s no biggie for me because I’m going to try and be here for a little bit longer,” added Hamilton of his quest for a sixth home triumph.
“But just the fact that’s a possibility is unreal for me. I just want to put that out of my mind and focus on the job at hand because it’s not going to be an easy weekend – this has been a strong track for us in the past so hopefully we can find the sweet spot.”
Hamilton finished fifth last time out in Austria, with Mercedes struggling in the 35-degree heat.
Mercedes’ off-colour performance cleared the way for Red Bull to claim the first non-Silver Arrows win of the season so far.
Max Verstappen delivered a fine comeback drive, passing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with two laps to go.
Verstappen’s performance in Spielberg led Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to raise eyebrows by declaring the Dutchman as the sport’s finest driver, adding he would beat Hamilton in identical machinery.
“Every now and then someone needs certain attention,” said Hamilton of Horner’s remarks. “I don’t compare myself to anybody.”