'I've never felt so great with the booing': Hamilton says jeers fuels ambition to win

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Pole position qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 31, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary.
Pole position qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 31, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary.
Photo by David W Cerny

[Please note: This article contains strong language]

Lewis Hamilton has told Max Verstappen's fans that their boos fuel him after securing a crucial pole position for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Verstappen qualified only third, four-tenths back, with Valtteri Bottas joining his Mercedes teammate on the front row.

Moments after claiming his first pole in almost three months, Hamilton was subjected to a chorus of jeers as he attempted to conduct his post-qualifying interview.

Indeed, the boos were so loud that Hamilton was forced to lean in to hear Johnny Herbert's question, as the former Formula One driver pleaded with Max Verstappen's supporters to stop.

"Enough of that, enough of that," he implored.

As the jeers slowly began to fizzle out, Hamilton said: "I appreciate the great support I've had here. I've never actually felt so great with the booing. If anything, it just fuels me, so I don't really mind it."

A fortnight on from Hamilton's 180mph collision with Verstappen on the first lap of the British Grand Prix, around 10 000 Dutch fans have made the journey across Europe to the Hungaroring, a dozen miles outside of Budapest.

They are creating a hostile reception for Hamilton.

One banner here read: "Sir Cheat: Karma is on its way", in reference to Hamilton's 10-second penalty for his collision with Verstappen at Silverstone.

There was also another poster of Hamilton mocked up like a crying baby in his Mercedes overalls.

With an air temperature of 30 degrees and a track surface double that, Verstappen then lost his cool by swearing in the official FIA press conference.

Both Hamilton and Verstappen were asked by the moderator what will happen if they end up wheel-to-wheel at the start of Sunday's 70-lap race.

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"Can we just stop this," said a furious Verstappen. "We have had so many fucking questions about this that it is ridiculous.

"On Thursday, we answered this stupid shit all the time, so can we just stop it, please?"

Verstappen escaped sanction from the FIA, but it is understood the Dutchman will be reported if he repeats his foul-mouthed outburst.As Verstappen went on the offensive, Hamilton smirked. Perhaps he sensed that his rival, who led the championship by 33 points before the British Grand Prix, is rattled?

Now eight points behind, Hamilton will head into the summer break leading the championship if he wins, and Verstappen fails to improve on third.

Attentions then returned to the booing.

"People have a right," said Hamilton. "This is sport, and fans act wildly. It is a competition, and I don't take it to heart. In the end, I must be doing something right to be up the front."

Verstappen added: "I was in the garage, so I didn't pay attention to what was outside.

"What do you want me to say? It is not correct, of course. But we are drivers, and we shouldn't get disturbed by these kind of things.

"Luckily, we wear helmets when we are driving, so it is different to other sports. It is not nice, but it shouldn't influence any of us. We are professional, and we know what we have to do on the track."

It was then left to Hamilton's teammate Bottas to address the crowd.

"We are here as athletes to give everything we have for the sport we love, and Lewis did an amazing lap, but then you get booing," the Finn said.

"The people should question themselves. It is not right, it is not fair, I don't understand it, and we don't want to see this kind of things."

Hamilton is the master of the Hungaroring. This was his eighth pole here – one more than Michael Schumacher – and on Sunday, he will bid to become the first man to win at the same venue on nine occasions. He could also secure a landmark 100th victory.

Verstappen will start Sunday's race on the softest rubber. Hamilton will be on the slower but more durable medium tyre, putting him at a disadvantage when the lights go out.

"With everything going on around us, we are staying focused, so I am really proud of everyone," Hamilton added.

"I don't know what win number 100 would mean. We have not even completed half the job.

"Tomorrow is a long race; we don't know what the weather is like around us, it is such a challenging circuit, and the whole top four will not be easy to beat. We have a long run down to Turn 1, so it should be an exciting race."

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