Lewis Hamilton has revealed that a welcome stint of rest and relaxation was pivotal to his triumph in last weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring – and now he is bidding to make it back-to-back victories by prevailing at the Hungaroring in five days' time, too.
In the build-up to his home race at Silverstone a fortnight earlier, Hamilton had chided McLaren-Mercedes for overburdening him with PR and sponsorship commitments away from the circuit that had left him tired and unable to train, focus or prepare properly for what really mattered – the British Grand Prix itself.
The upshot was that he could qualify only tenth and finish only fourth, and his employer, he had vowed, would get a 'shock' when it came to discussing that part of his workload in any new contract negotiations [see separate story – click here
In-between that race and the following German Grand Prix, however, the British star found himself with time to chill out and recharge his batteries – and that, he contends, was vital to what he has described as one of the very finest performances of his career.
“I had so much energy this weekend,” the 26-year-old is quoted as having said by The Guardian
. “People will laugh because I say I had a rest, but it is the truth. You have to have energy and be clear in the mind and have time to do your training. I trained twice last week, had good food and was massively positive all week, wasn't in the media anywhere, wasn't 'papped' anywhere. I was just focussed and came here with a fresh head and felt good – and then the car was with me.
“I have all my winners' tops for all my grand prix wins and the names of the grands prix written on the back of them. Years from now, I will be able to say I won this grand prix and that grand prix. I will remember this one like Silverstone, 2008.”
Hamilton's argument has been reinforced by 13-time grand prix-winner and current BBC F1
commentator David Coulthard, who agrees that the 2008 world champion and his team-mate and title-winning successor Jenson Button were perhaps being 'flogged too hard by McLaren's PR department and desperately needed a break'.
“They did not win much sympathy from the public,” the Scot reflected in his column for The Daily Telegraph
. “There were plenty of comments along the lines of, 'I'd swap a few days a year taking sponsors on 'hot laps' around Brands Hatch for a few million quid in the bank'. It is a fair cop, and it is important to keep things in perspective. These are hugely privileged racing drivers – they are not out fighting wars or living in abject poverty – but when it comes to performing at the highest level, preparation is key.
“Flying to and from events – even on private jets as some of them do – sleeping in different hotels night-after-night, driving to and from tracks, smiling, shaking hands...it is not hard, but it is exhausting. It is not so much about what the drivers are doing, it is about what they are not doing – exercising, recovering, focussing on the next race.