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Lewis Hamilton says Sunday’s British Grand Prix is a “must-win” race.
The Mercedes driver said he skipped Wednesday’s Formula 1 event in central London because he wanted to be as well prepared as possible for his home race.
“The championship is the most important thing but a very close second is your home grand prix,” Hamilton said.
“I want to win the British Grand Prix. I have not won the last two races. The pleasure it would give me, you can’t measure that. It’s always a must-win.”
Hamilton is 20 points behind title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari after finishing fourth in last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, where a gearbox penalty left him eighth on the grid.
He made the decision not to take part in the London event – which featured F1 cars being driven in Trafalgar Square and Whitehall and was attended by the other 19 drivers – before race day in Austria.
“I heard it was an amazing event,” he said. “I love the British fans. I have made no secret of that. Hopefully the real fans know that when they come here.
“I am happy with how I’ve performed but the intensity of the season is weighing heavily on everyone. I am wanting to be the best prepared I can be.
“This is the closest battle I’ve ever had in a championship. It’s going to be hardest to win so you make sacrifices. You have to do what’s right to make yourself the best prepared you can be.”
‘It’s going to be rapid’
Hamilton has won the last three British Grands Prix and if he wins this weekend he will tie with Alain Prost and Jim Clark’s joint record of five wins.
He said: “It is the home of motorsport. The history and the turn-out we have is incredible. I have grown up watching Nigel Mansell win here and Damon [Hill] and Johnny [Herbert].
“There is no other race that has the atmosphere this race has, because of the fans. You want to be the one who delivers for them – look out and see the British flags and there is no better feeling.”
Hamilton said the faster 2017 cars would make the track more demanding than ever and predicted a close battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
“It’s going to be rapid,” he said. “I think none of us are quite prepared for just how fast. The g-force levels are going to be one up at each corner. It’s going to be a spectacular weekend.”
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