Hamilton on his love for Italy

By Pat Espresso

Lewis Hamilton was awarded the prestigious Lorenzo Bandini trophy in the small northern Italian town of Brisighella at the weekend.

The annual prize in honour of Brisighella resident and racing driver Bandini who died in a crash at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1967 could be the first of many for Hamilton this year but thoughts of another F1 title are yet to enter his head.

“It’s strange. I’ve had four solid races, two wins and two second places, and yet I’m only 12 points ahead,” he said on a scorching hot day in the Brisighella mayor’s office.
“We’ll have to see how it goes but if I can increase that gap a bit I’ll certainly be happier.”

Hamilton made himself a fan favourite in medieval Brisighella bybringing his pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger along and offering free tickets for local children to visit the McLaren factory in Britain.

He also saluted local hero Valentino Rossi, who stunned motorsport by finishing fourth in Sunday’s German MotoGP just six weeks after breaking his leg and being told he would be out for at least three months.

“He is crazy,” Hamilton laughed, adding he one day would like to see the Rossi try F1.

Commenting on his visit through his official website Hamilton told of his visit on Sunday: “Brisighella is a small town that sits in the rolling countryside around the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the old home of the San Marino Grand Prix.

“Brisighella was the hometown of one of Italy’s most remembered racing drivers, Lorenzo Bandini, a Ferrari grand prix driver, who was fatally injured in a fiery crash at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix.

“His hometown celebrates his legacy by holding an annual awards ceremony, and I’m thrilled and overwhelmed to have been selected by the committee this year.

“For me, it’s an honour to be joining drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and my own team-mate Jenson Button as a winner of the famous Lorenzo Bandini Trophy. I’m really looking forward to it.

“I love Italy and Italian people. When I was karting, I used to live and race in Italy – I can speak a little Italian, and, it goes without saying, I love Italian food – pasta, pizza and gelati! It’s the best food in the world.

“Having just come from Silverstone, where the grandstands were packed every day, and the fans enthusiastically cheered and waved flags throughout the weekend, I can completely understand the huge passion that the Italian people have for motorsport, and Formula 1 in particular. At Monza each year, it’s fantastic to see the local crowds so intensely passionate – firstly, for Ferrari, but also for the whole sport.

“And, in many ways, the story of modern Formula 1 has become the story of the battle between Ferrari and McLaren, and I’m incredibly proud to be playing a part in that story, as I’m sure were all my predecessors at McLaren, and the many famous names who have driven for the Scuderia, too.

“In Brisighella this weekend, I hope I can live up to the champions that have come before me, and the name of Lorenzo Bandini and his considerable legacy.

As a racing driver, I have always driven with my heart and soul, and I hope the people there will appreciate me for that.”

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