Lewis Hamilton defends absence from London F1 Live event

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has defended his decision not to attend the F1 Live event in London in the build-up to the British Grand Prix

The three-time world champion was the only current F1 driver not to take part in the event in the English capital on Wednesday.

While the other 19 drivers took part in the day that included street demonstrations from several teams, the first since an event in Regent Street in 2004, Hamilton said he needed to take a break between back-to-back races in Austria and Britain.

Speaking at Silverstone on Thursday, Hamilton said "everyone had the right to make the decision for themselves".

"I felt that it had been a pretty intense season so far and I needed to prepare the best way I could this weekend," said Hamilton, who is seeking a fourth straight British GP win.

"The season is the most important thing for me and that is really it. People can have opinions about it.

"It is a very intense season, I am trying to prepare the best way I can for the battle ahead of me.

"I don't feel yesterday played any role in how great this weekend will be.

"It has been growing every year, people save up so much to come up to this grand prix - you will see how much I appreciate and respect that."

Hamilton explained he had informed the organisers of the event and Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff last week that he would not be attending.

Asked if he stood by the decision, after receiving some boos at the event and criticism afterwards, Hamilton replied: "I feel like I've answered as much as I really want to.

"I am solely focused on this weekend. I feel great being here.

"I feel the best prepared I can be. That is all I can say really."

Several drivers and F1 personnel claimed F1 Live was a significant step in branching out to existing fans and engaging a new audience.

Hamilton said he already did "everything I can to genuinely connect" with his supporters.

"I do have the biggest following here in F1, and communicate with them as much as I can," he said.

"Fans mean everything to me, they always have, and I make no secret of that.

"What I do outside the sport, such as when I go and visit a hospital and spend time with young kids who can't come to a grand prix - that is not something you potentially report on, but that is very important to me.

"That is where I feel I like to put my energy mostly.

"We have decisions to make, and you have to stand by them, and feel proud, and I do.

"The goal is to win the British Grand Prix for the home crowd.

"I've been really fortunate in the last few years to do that and the yearning and the will to want to do that again is greater than ever."

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