Belfast Telegraph

Lewis fired up to shoot down Ferrari

 

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

By Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton is braced for a hostile reception when he goes in search of a record sixth triumph at Ferrari's home but the world champion has revealed the Italian supporters, who are likely to boo him, have pleaded that he joins their team.

Sitting in his Mercedes cockpit yesterday, Hamilton will have observed the solitary "Team LH" Union Jack which sat among the swathes of Ferrari flags adorning the pit straight as the carnival atmosphere builds ahead of tomorrow's race.

British novices Lando Norris and George Russell will have been stunned by the manic, bordering on farcical, greeting they received upon leaving the paddock on Thursday night. The former, who is yet to score a single point in Formula One, was mobbed like a rock star. He required three security guards to keep the selfie brigade at bay.

Yet, the fanatical Tifosi have been starved of success in recent times. Kimi Raikkonen was the last driver dressed in red to win a world championship, a dozen years ago. A Ferrari car has not won at Monza since 2010.

And while Charles Leclerc finally ended Ferrari's winless run in Belgium last weekend, Sebastian Vettel, the man paid £36million each year to end their title drought, has not stood on the top step of a podium in more than a year.

In contrast, the all-conquering Hamilton is this year poised to close out his sixth world championship, moving to within one of Ferrari hero Michael Schumacher. He will usurp Schumacher as the Master of Monza with another triumph tomorrow after going behind enemy lines to win in four of his last five appearances at the Cathedral of Speed.

"I am lucky because I have a very good Italian following," said Hamilton, 65 points clear of Valtteri Bottas in the championship standings.

"When I arrive at this race, a lot of Ferrari fans have asked me to go to Ferrari. I wasn't expecting that."

The 34-year-old Briton has one more year to run on his £40m-a-season Mercedes deal.

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