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Hamilton adapting to celebrity status ahead of home race 06 Jul 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 5 July 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 5 July 2007 Lewis Hamilton and Thandie Newton at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity's Official F1 Party, ahead of the 2007 FORMULA 1™ Santander British Grand Prix. © Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.

Lewis Hamilton looked relaxed and rested yesterday as he prepared for this weekend's British Grand Prix, even though things have been non-stop since he came back from Magny-Cours late last Sunday.

As far as all the fans who arrived early at Silverstone on Friday were concerned, the English McLaren star is the man they want to see and the man they want to hear about.

“I was invited to the Princess Diana party,” he admitted, when asked how his week had been, “but I didn’t get back in time, then I was invited to the after party but I was too tired so I had dinner and went off to bed.

“Then on Monday I was playing golf in Woking and on the ninth tee I got a call saying P Diddy has invited you again to a special dinner. I wanted to do the last nine holes to be honest, but I didn’t have time. I was contemplating not going, but I got there and they waited for me. There was me, Pharrell (Williams) and Natasha (Bedingfield), we got in Pharrell’s car and took that to an after party thing. Pharrell got out first and I got out second and, just being a gentleman, seriously, I gave her my hand and helped Natasha out. Then somebody says something and next minute it’s all over the place, and I don’t even know the woman!

“The cool thing is that P Diddy has my number, and so does Pharrell, all these stars that I’ve always watched on TV. I was just driving down the road, thinking, I’ve got P Diddy on my iPod, just listening to him, and I’ve got his number, this is my mate!

“I think they almost felt star-struck by me. That was the unreal thing. I got there and all these celebs were there and it was almost like I was the main attraction. It was really weird, to be honest. Even the after party they were coming to me and asking me for my number. It was very, very strange, a new experience for me. I quite enjoy that side of things.”

Despite his newfound celebrity, Hamilton believes nothing had changed in his own personality. “I think being yourself is the best advice you can give anyone. You should just be yourself no matter who you are around.”

And he admitted that he hasn’t dared consider what it might be like if he wins here on Sunday. “I haven’t even tried to imagine what the weekend would be like. I know it will be very hectic with all the schedule and everything. I flew over here an hour ago and there didn’t seem to be many cars here yet, so I have no idea how packed it’s going to be. It’s another experience and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’m excited more than anything. I do like this circuit. I think it’s kept in real good condition and I don’t know why people say the facilities are so poor. Montreal isn’t as good as this place. We definitely need to get some support from somewhere to make it a bit better, but I don’t think it’s terrible. We could do with some more grandstands, and making it cheaper.”

Could anything in his life be better than winning the British Grand Prix, he was asked? “Can I come back to you on that?” he responded. “I’m sure up until this point that Montreal has to be the high point of my career so far, that and my first race. Winning your home grand prix would be the next step, but I’m not going to add that extra pressure. I’m here to compete and to do the best job possible this weekend.”

David Tremayne