BUDAPEST — Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton said booing from the crowd only fueled his determination after he took pole position in qualifying for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver is locked in a fierce battle with Red Bull’s world championship leader Max Verstappen, with passions running high after their collision at the previous race.
Plenty of Verstappen fans have made their way to Hungary for Sunday’s showdown, the last before the August break, and social media posts showed one orange banner hanging from a stand declaring “Sir Cheat: Karma is on its way”.
Hamilton was recently knighted in Britain.
“I appreciate the great support I have here,” said the sport’s most successful driver of all time, smiling.
“Honestly, I’ve never actually felt so great with the booing. If anything, it just fuels me. So I don’t really mind.”
The Silverstone clash dumped Verstappen out at speed while Hamilton, deemed guilty of dangerous driving by Red Bull, collected a penalty but still won, slashing the Dutch driver’s overall advantage to eight points.
The Briton and Bottas, who joins him on the front row, were slow lapping before the final run as the clock ticked down to the end of qualifying with provisional times set already.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was unable to get round in time for another lap as a result.
“Everybody was going slow. Did you not watch everyone else? I don’t understand,” Hamilton told reporters.
“Do you think I could have gone quicker and then just been closer to Valtteri?… I’m not playing any tactics. I don’t need to play no tactics, man. I know what I’m doing in the car, I’m fast enough. I don’t need to add tactics.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, who was strongly critical of the Silverstone collision, was not getting hot under the collar about it.
Verstappen qualified third, with Perez fourth on the grid.
“It’s a bit of gamesmanship,” Horner told Sky Sports television when asked about the out-lap. “Lewis had got a hell of a lap in the bank and then obviously he’s just backing things up.
“It’s his right to do that, he’s got the track position. I haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow.”