MONZA, Italy — Lewis Hamilton hopes the fans who booed him after the Italian Grand Prix continue to do so in order to inspire him to more Formula One victories.
Hamilton passed both Ferraris at their home race on Sunday, opening up a 30-point championship lead over Sebastian Vettel in the process. The reigning world champion’s appearance on the Monza podium was met with boos, as was that of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
It was a reverse of the situation at the British Grand Prix, Hamilton’s home race, where the Ferrari pair were met with a similar response on the podium.
“I think it’s acceptable,” Hamilton said. “It’s done in every sport.”
The Englishman said the boos helped give him motivation to beat Ferrari.
“If I’m really honest I don’t understand it, because I’ve never booed an opponent, even if it was against my team. Neither do my friends so I don’t get the psyche behind it, but it happens in all sports. It definitely in football and here more than others from what I’ve noticed. But it is the way it is.
“For me, it is easy, in the arena that we are in it is easy to allow it to get to you and allow it to have an impact on your life, but it is also quite easy to harness it and use it. That gave me so much motivation. I welcome it and if they want to keep doing it, it just empowers me.”
When asked if he was offended by it, he replied: “No. There’s nothing to get offended by.
“I just keep smiling. I know I’ve got those individuals out there who travel the world to support me. I know they are there and I’m proud of them because when they are in a big sea of red and there’s the booing and then there’s one flag, you notice the one guy standing there with the flag or the kid waving. You can imagine being surrounded by that and having the heat of it, because all the eyes are on him or her. I really just appreciate that and respect it so much. So I really tried to point out to them and just know that I acknowledge them and appreciate them.”
The question was asked to Hamilton during the postrace news conference after his win. Sitting either side of him were two Finns, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Bottas. Both agreed with Hamilton that fans were entitled to do what they wanted.
“I think everybody has the right to do what they feel like,” Raikkonen said. “I don’t think it’s very nice, I don’t think it should happen but that’s not my decision. It happens and that’s how life is, but it’s not very nice.”
Bottas added: “I think every fan has their own right to tell their opinion for different drivers, different teams. Everyone can say whatever they like, they can support whoever they like. For sure they can do it.
“Of course, when you get the boos, it’s not as nice as someone shouting your name, but as Lewis mentioned, for sports people who have the right mindset, we can turn some negative experiences into strengths. In the end, if you handle it right, you can really use that as a source of energy.”
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