Lewis Hamilton says the absence of fans from Formula 1 grands prix when the 2020 season finally gets under way will make the events feel “even worse than a test day”.
The six-time world champion consistently pays tribute to the positive impact of the fans on races, but the necessity to stage grands prix without a crowd thanks to the COVID-pandemic gives him an “empty feeling” despite his enthusiasm for returning to racing.
This is because of the loss of atmosphere brought by the fans, and the fact it will be very obvious the grandstands will be empty to those behind the wheel.
“I don’t know how exciting it’s going to be for people watching it on TV but it’s going to be better than nothing, but for us it’s going to be like a test day” :: Lewis Hamilton
“It gave me a really empty feeling because the fans really make that race [the British GP],” said Hamilton in Mercedes’ latest in-house video shared by team partner Petronas.
“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 I’m getting messages from people around the world who are struggling during this period because they are not getting to watch sports and it just shows how significant sport is in people’s lives.
“It’s brings us all together and it’s so exciting and captivating.
“I don’t know how exciting it’s going to be for people watching it on TV but it’s going to be better than nothing, but for us it’s going to be like a test day, probably even worse than a test day in a sense.
“On a test day there’s not a huge amount of people in Barcelona come to watch but there are still some, where here you’re going to have nobody in the crowd and you’re just going to see empty seats as you’re driving down.”
Despite his concerns about the absence of fans, Hamilton is eager to get started on the 2020 season and is excited to return to racing.
This is the biggest break in his career without competing as neither he nor his rivals have contested an F1 race in just over five months.
He’s also keen to get some real answers on how competitive the Mercedes W11, which appeared to be the class of the field in pre-season testing, really is.
“Racing is racing and I don’t think any of us have had enough time to really, truly unleash the potential of our cars so I’m excited to get back in. I really, really do miss it,” said Hamilton.
“It’s 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, so I’m excited for the future.”