It’s lonely at the top, says Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has admitted he is battling loneliness in his pursuit of Michael Schumacher’s seven world titles.

The Mercedes driver remains on course to equal the great German’s record haul, heading into Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix 37 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the championship summit.

Hamilton’s domination of Formula One in recent years has been coupled with a hectic off-track schedule. But the coronavirus pandemic has constricted him to the confines of his motorhome this season.

Hamilton’s bubble consists of just his physio, the New Zealander Angela Cullen, and assistant Marc Hynes. Hamilton’s dog, Roscoe, makes fleeting appearances, too.

“The journey of an F1 driver fighting for a championship can often feel like a lonely one,” said the 35-year-old.

“Luckily, work gets me by. These days at the track are the good days, but the ones in between are a little bit trickier. When you are at the races and you don’t see any fans you feel removed from that contact.

“Normally you are at events and you are interacting with so many people, but I have interacted with fewer people this year than I have in my entire life which makes it tricky.

“But every day I am trying to remind myself to be grateful that I have my job and that we still do what we do.

“In today’s world there is something tangible to fight for and it is not this championship – it is equality. I want to be a part of that solution. There is such a long way to go and it weighs heavily on my spirit.”

Hamilton has stated that he intends to combat racism for his remaining days, but will compete here despite the postponement of a series of sporting events in the United States following player-led protests against the police shooting of African-American Jacob Blake.

Hamilton, who will continue to take a knee ahead of Sunday’s race, said that his withdrawal from the seventh round of the championship at Spa-Francorchamps would have little impact in the fight against racism.

The British driver has been in impressive form this year, taking four wins from six races, and, despite finishing third in practice, with rival Verstappen top of the time charts, he will start as the favourite to extend his championship lead.

Before Hamilton’s bid for another win, a one-minute silence will be staged on the grid in tribute to Anthoine Hubert, the young French driver who was killed during a Formula Two race here last year. Hubert, 22, died following a four-car pile-up at the fearsome Eau Rouge corner.

Earlier this week, Formula One bosses rubber-stamped a 17-race calendar, adding a round in Turkey and two in Bahrain. The season will conclude in Abu Dhabi on December 13.

On Friday, it was confirmed that the second Bahrain race will take place on a different layout at the Sakhir Circuit. Lap times are predicted to be under 55 seconds at the 2.28-mile track – the quickest in the sport’s history.