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"It's better than nothing", says Hamilton of 'closed door' races

NEWS STORY
11/05/2020

If the Austrian Grand Prix goes ahead as planned it will be held behind closed doors, as will the vast majority of events on this year's rescheduled calendar.

Though - with the exception of Max Verstappen's Orange Army - F1 fans are not as vocal as their football counterparts, their cheers, flags, klaxons and team clothing help create the sport's unique atmosphere.

However, when the cars take to the track at Spielberg in July, there will be no cheers, no flags, no klaxons and no team clothing... as the F1 circus is stripped down to the bare minimum.

Though he is keen to return to the track and add to his collection of titles, Lewis Hamilton admits that racing in front of empty grandstands will be a strange experience.

"Around the world, all the races we go to, the more fans are there, the more atmosphere we have," he said in a video for Mercedes. "That's why you have places like Silverstone and Monza.

"So it's going to be very empty," he continued. "What's great is I'm getting messages from people around the world who are struggling during this period because they're not getting to watch sports, and it shows how significant sport is in people's lives. It brings us all together, and it's so exciting and captivating. "So, I don't know how exciting it's going to be for people watching on TV, but it's going to be better than nothing.

"For us it's going to be like a test day," he admits, "probably even worse than a test day, in the sense that on a test day there aren't a huge amount of people that come to watch, but there are still some, whereas here you're going to have nobody in the crowd, and you're just going to see empty seats as you're driving round.

"But racing is racing," he continues. "I don't think any of us have truly had time to unleash the potential of our cars. So I'm excited to get back in, I really, really do miss it."

Of course, there was the 'false start' in Melbourne, a weekend that the Briton admits was "a shock to the system".

"It really, really was," he says. "Obviously on that Thursday I commented my opinion as to whether or not we should have been there, and to wake up the next day with the excitement that I'm going to be getting in the car, and then to hear that we're not going to be going to the track, it was very, very surreal.

"We weren't quite sure what was going to happen, and then you miss practice one, and then practice two went, and qualifying went. But I stayed there through the weekend."

The Briton was particularly frustrated at the way things turned out because heading into the new season he felt better prepared than ever.

"Every year I know how to get straight into the zone," he said, "I know what preparation means, I know how to be there and ready for the first race, so that we start off better than ever. Each year you're refining it a little bit, to make sure you arrive even better, and start on the right foot.

"And we didn't get to race. It was definitely a difficult few days, and then following on that from that having something that you love so much, not taken away from you, but it's not happening at the moment. I miss driving."

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