Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2019

Hamilton: British Grand Prix without fans will feel like a test day but worse

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says the thought of racing at Silverstone without spectators gives him an “empty feeling”, but an event behind closed doors will be better than not having a British Grand Prix.

“The fans really make that race,” said Hamilton in a video released by Mercedes.

“Around the world, all the races we go to, the more fans there, the more atmosphere you have. That’s why you have places like Silverstone and Monza. So it’s going to be very empty.

“But what’s great is the messages from people around the world, because they’re not getting to watch sports, it just shows how significant sport is in people’s lives. It brings us all together and it’s so exciting and captivating.”

Hamilton expects the race will have the atmosphere of a pre-season test session.

“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,” he said. “For us it’s going to be like a test day. Probably even worse than a test day in a sense – at a test day there’s not a huge amount of people at Barcelona that come to watch but there are still some.

“But here you’re going to have nobody in the crowd and you’re just going to see empty seats as you’re driving down.”

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The 2020 F1 season was supposed to begin almost two months ago in Australia. Hamilton had criticised F1 for attempting to hold the race in Melbourne before it was called off, but admitted he felt disappointed he couldn’t participate.

How F1 will bring social distancing to the paddock – and who will be allowed in
“It really was a shock to the system,” he said. “Obviously on that Thursday, I commented my opinion on whether or not we should have been there.

“Then to wake up the next day, honestly with 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 whether it was going to happen. We missed practise one and then practice two went and qualifying went. But I stayed there through the weekend and it was tough.”

He said he is looking forward to discovering how competitive his Mercedes will be when racing resumes, which is expected to be in the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5th.

“I don’t think any of us have had enough time to truly unleash the potential of ours cars so I’m excited to get back in,” he said. “I really do miss it.

“This has been almost a blessing on one side because it gives you even more appreciation for the things that you love and the things that you do. This has given me more energy and inspiration and determination to keep delivering and keep working with this great team and so I’m excited for the future.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 23 comments on “Hamilton: British Grand Prix without fans will feel like a test day but worse”

    1. What are the chances that Hamilton will still say “we have the best fans here at [insert every venue’s name]”?

      1. @mashiat I wouldn’t be surprised if that were to happen at least once due to being used to do that.

        1. Ahah, indeed! Only when he wins ofc.

    2. Us fans like the race from the screens aswell, and not for the spectators by the track, but due to spectacle on the track.

    3. Yes like if he cares about fans… I’ve been some years in the circuit as an spectator and when the truck with the drivers do the lap around circuit, he’s the only driver who never waves or salutes hand to spectators, and he’s always in his own place of the truck, without mixing with the other drivers. Like he’s special…

      1. He never waves or salutes the fans? You do know many of us go to the tracks and the truck lap is now streamed live on multiple media sites?

        1. 4 years i saw the truck live, never has salute to the grandstand were i was, when all drivers do. And he was always in his own truck area like a VIP, not mixing with the others. It’s not coincidence when he does always like that. Like he’s the star of the show.

        2. Sounds like Alex wanted Lewis to pick him out in the crowd and wave to him.

          Like he cares.

      2. Without checking I cannot imagine Kimi was on the T-shirt cannon either.

        I honestly don’t care if no-one waves. I’m fine without having the truck. I cannot imagine if given the choice, any driver would choose to go on the truck.

        But I’m sure Liberty are going to do more and more things to get the drivers to interact, which OK is not a bad thing, but I’d imagine most of the old guard and some of the new won’t be doing whatever it is all that willingly. As a fan I’d just like to get onto the pitlane without screen blocking by the teams the need of getting a 2nd mortgage to do so.

      3. A quick search of YouTube results in at least a dozen videos of Lewis on the truck waving and saluting the fans at a dozen different tracks.

    4. I do think it will be a strange experience even for us fans watching the race on TV. Surely it will in a sense raise the question, why do we do this and what is all the fuss about? Commentators like Crofty and Brundle raising their voice to almost embarrassing levels, trying to create excitement where there sometimes isn’t any.. Normally the sight of a solid hundred thousands of fans at the race track brings a sense of; OK this is real, people do care. But now?.. Imagine Mercedes being on top another year and Hamilton easily pulling away. How are you as a fan supposed to explain your interest to any one of your family members or friends?

      1. @me4me I can only speak 4 me of course, but I think I will find it only slightly strange, because we have a context here, the global pandemic. For me it will make sense and be understandable to see no fans, but the action on the track will remain the same. And even if it is an LH runaway season as the pre-season seemed to hint at, I remain stoked that imho Max is poised to surprise us in this year’s RBR, and might make the LH/Mercedes seem less dominant than it has so far ‘this season.’

        So how would I explain my excitement to my family and friends? The same way as always. I love F1. I have never needed a crowd there to confirm that, although admittedly we have never experienced a crowd less race have we? Perhaps I’ll be more affected than I think, but I’m pretty confident that as the lights are going on and then go out for the start I’ll be as stoked and as zoomed in as ever at the front runners and how they started, and at that first corner. And then to see how the race evolves.

        1. @robbie Same here. The absence of people on the grandstands is something I probably wouldn’t even notice during the races as I never really pay much attention to them in the first place, and, of course, no difference to the quality of racing on the track.

        2. @robbie I thought it wouldn’t be strange, but here in Aus they played a few games of our AFL without fans before stopping altogether and I did find the games pretty flat and uninteresting. Ratings indicated that there was a fair drop in interest right across the board as well.
          I can’t say why exactly, other than the whole event just seemed to lack “feel” – even some of the game sequences seemed more training drill than match day.

          Like you, there’s a whole range of things that I was excited for this year, but having already experienced some sport without fans, I’m no so certain it will remain as exciting, without being able to give you a clear answer why, as It would if we had a normal season.

          1. Relatively silent sports probably need spectator noise to provide atmosphere, and the lack of this may even affect the performance of the participants.

            In F1, this won’t be an issue.

          2. @dbradock Fair comment. You’re reminding me of the late night talk shows and how different they are without the laughter from the audience. Especially the first shows where the hosts (Colbert, Fallon, Kimmel, Myers etc) were unused to it as well. They quickly learned to just move on to the next joke without waiting for the audience to quiet down. But still, it kind of feels like watching a comedian bomb, when you don’t hear anyone laughing.

    5. Not bothered about the crowds being absent. But it could turn out to be a damp squib of a season if one of the WDC challengers has to drop out and miss a couple of races due to a self isolation situation.

    6. 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

      So why doesn’t F1 have one of some remotely controlled survey worm thingys, where fans vote for something via the internet? Maybe it’s a bit fake to connect it to cheering as well, but there’s no reason they couldn’t display the results to the drivers as they go around the track. Or is this too complicated?

    7. Sonny Crockett
      9th May 2020, 19:49

      Fortunately for those of us watching, the lack of fans at the circuit should have minimal impact on our enjoyment.

      In the real world people are losing their jobs; having to work from makeshift home offices and all sorts of other difficult scenarios. Hamilton and the rest of the drivers just need to suck it up and get on with it.

    8. No fans onsite for the Silverstone GP will certainly add to the dystopian future vibe.

      Having just watched last year’s race – not for the 1st time, the fans’ cheers and jeers when Max and Seb were battling and Lewis trying to catch Bottas added to the spectacle. A fanless British GP will be very different.

      Shame it couldn’t be Crofty-faux-drama-free as well.

    9. Thursday Hamilton: “I think we should not race in Melbourne.”
      Friday Hamilton: “I’m really disappointed we won’t race in Melbourne”

      1. i think there are a few billion people who have the same thoughts about their own situation. And I imagine there are millions of motor sport fans who think we shouldnt race; but are also disappointed we won’t.

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