Hamilton calls Canadian GP one of F1’s ‘exceptional’ races

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Lewis Hamilton has called the Canadian Grand Prix is one of Formula 1’s “exceptional” races ahead of his bid for a sixth victory in Montreal on Sunday.

Hamilton took his very first F1 win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve back in 2007, and has since claimed a further four races, putting him second on the victory list in Canada behind Michael Schumacher (seven wins).

“Obviously having the amazing experience I had in 2007, I remember standing on the podium and looking down at my Dad and just seeing the biggest smile I’d ever seen in my life on his face, which was a very proud moment,” Hamilton reminisced.

“And then just since then, I think every year I’ve come I’ve just grown a lot I think with Canada and Montreal, and the following has grown along the time as well in 10 years. So the love I come and receive when I get here is spectacular, and you definitely feel the energy.

“Here’s a great race, the weather’s generally pretty good. The circuit’s incredible and unique to its own. The city’s one of the greatest cities. I’ve not been here when it’s not been a grand prix, but during the grand prix, there’s a huge buzz here.

“I love being here. I try and get here a bit earlier because the food’s great, the people are great, and I generally get left alone so it’s a good weekend.”

Canada is celebrating 50 years of F1 this weekend, and Hamilton believes it holds a place among the very best races on the sport’s calendar.

“Formula 1 is obviously made up of a lot of great countries, a lot of great races,” Hamilton said.

“But there are the exceptional races, and there are only a few of them, and this is race is in that few.”

Looking ahead to the coming weekend, Hamilton said that he felt Mercedes is on the back foot in the fight with the rival Ferrari team, having slipped to 25 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship last time out in Monaco.

“I think Toto [Wolff, Mercedes F1 boss] mentioned that he thinks that Ferrari [is quickest], and we obviously have seen Ferrari are the quickest at the moment so they’re the favorites,” Hamilton said.

“But we’re working very hard to rectify the issues we had in the last race and hope that we can attack this weekend.

“They’ve got some unique bits on the car I think that will work well this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the fight to them.”

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”