Lewis Hamilton says the dark days of deep unpopularity in Spain are over.
The Briton’s relationship with Barcelona hit a low at the height of his rivalry with Fernando Alonso, when fans with notoriously blacked out faces jeered. “In the first years here I always had a bit of a bad feeling,” Hamilton told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “Like in the drivers’ parade.” But in the intervening years, as Hamilton’s relationship with home town hero Alonso improved, so too did his popularity in Spain. “I keep getting more and more fans here,” he said ahead of the Spanish grand prix. “My relationship with Fernando has returned to normal and I think he has had the same experience as me when it comes to Britain,” Hamilton explained.
Manuel Franco, the correspondent for Spanish sports newspaper AS, told Hamilton he is in fact now a ‘favourite’ F1 driver within Spain — behind Alonso, of course. “Favourite? Really?” Hamilton exclaimed. “I’m so happy to hear that. I always love coming here to Spain, Barcelona and winning would be a dream.”