Lewis Hamilton: 'Muhammad Ali inspires me in championship'

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at Silverstone
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Hamilton trails Rosberg by 29 points in the drivers' championship standings

Lewis Hamilton says he is inspired by boxer Muhammad Ali as he tries to overhaul Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Formula 1 title race.

Hamilton said he was drawing on Ali's famous "rope-a-dope" victory over George Foreman in 1974 as he seeks to close the 29-point gap to the German.

"I think about Muhammad Ali," Hamilton told BBC Sport.

"He sat on the rope and let [Foreman] have the upper hand until he decided it was the right time to turn it around."

Austrian GP highlights: Rosberg holds off Hamilton

Ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix, Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, added: "I'm hoping I can do a similar thing. He inspires me in that fight."

Hamilton thinks it is important to beat Rosberg this weekend. The Englishman has finished second to his rival in two of the last three races and retired from the other.

"I am going to do everything to be out front," said Hamilton, who has had two retirements this year.

In contrast, Rosberg has finished every race, winning three grands prix and finishing second five times.

"Winning your home grand prix is one of the greatest experiences you can have as a driver," added Hamilton.

"I'm hopeful I don't have any more bad luck with the non-finishes and it's time to turn things around."

Hamilton has not won at Silverstone since 2008, when he dominated in wet conditions to take one of the greatest victories of his career.

British winners of the British Grand Prix

Former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button hopes there will be another British victory this weekend but says the pressure is on Hamilton.

"It would be amazing to have a British victory," said the 2009 world champion. "The crowd would go wild.

"For myself, it's going to be tricky to get on the top step. Lewis has got a shot. Let's hope it happens."

The flowing, fast Silverstone circuit and the huge crowds - 80,000 spectators are expected to attend practice on Friday, with about 95,000 due for Saturday's qualifying and 120,000 for the race on Sunday - make the British Grand Prix a favourite amongst drivers.

Rosberg says he will do everything he could to prevent Hamilton recording a home victory on Sunday.

"I definitely am going to try," the German said. "It's not going to be easy here, but I will do my best and I'm optimistic."

Having won seven of the eight races so far this season, only missing out in Canada last month when they ran into a rare reliability problem, Mercedes are expected to win at Silverstone, with Hamilton and Rosberg fighting it out at the front.

World champions Red Bull should be their closest challengers, despite a poor race in Austria two weeks ago.

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso says he does not think it will be possible for Ferrari to win a race this season

Daniel Ricciardo, who was eighth in Austria, is the highest Red Bull driver in the championship in third place, 82 points behind Rosberg.

The Australian, who took his maiden career victory in Canada, said the team said the team think they know what went wrong in Austria and were expecting a better weekend at Silverstone.

That's because the plethora of high-speed corners suits the aerodynamic excellence of the Red Bull, while the power disadvantage of the Renault compared to the Mercedes engine is less of a handicap.

"If we can be the strong package we normally are here, it can definitely bring us close to the other teams," said Ricciardo.

"All going well, I think we should be the ones behind Mercedes. I think they'll still be quickest but whether that's half a second or two or three tenths [of a second] we'll have to find out.

"If we get it all right we can be within a couple of three tenths from them."

Watch BBC F1's British Grand Prix preview

Ferrari are in a similar situation to Red Bull, with a good car let down by a poor engine, but double world champion Fernando Alonso is pessimistic about his chances of a podium finish at Silverstone.

In fact, the Spaniard does not think his team will taste victory at all this season.

"If I'm honest with you, I would say no, it's not possible to win this year," Alonso said. "But I thought in 2011 it was impossible to win a race and we won here.

"Anything can happen in this sport, so we try to do the best we can. If one opportunity arrives, we will take it to win a race, but it is extremely difficult to win with the performance we are showing."

If Alonso fails to register a win in 2014, it would be the first time since 2009 the 32-year-old has not won at least once in a season and only the second time since 2003.

Alonso said he expected Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, who locked out the front row and finished the race third and fourth in Austria, would again be strong in Silverstone.

"They will be a threat," Alonso said.

Listen to Lewis Hamilton's interview with BBC Radio 5 live

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