Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff says that it’s a positive if Lewis Hamilton polarises opinion, as that's better than if the five-time world champion was “boring.”
Wolff’s comments came in the light of a debate over Hamilton’s popularity in his home country, sparked by a controversial question regarding the perception of his 'Britishness' in a press conference at his local race.
“I think certainly racing in front of his home crowd in Silverstone he wants to do particularly well,” said Wolff. “And that puts an additional tension and intensity into the situation.
“For me many of the best sports stars in the world, they polarise. You will have heard similar comments about Serena Williams. Half of the people love her and want her to win everything, and the other ones cheer for the opponents.
“And I think you'd rather polarise than be down the middle and boring. That's my opinion.”
Hamilton was defended on social media by former footballer Rio Ferdinand, who said that the questions and criticism the F1 champion has faced were steeped in "racist undertones".
“I can understand his opinion and he has a right to that,” said Hamilton when told of Ferdinand’s message. “I think it’s not a route that I particularly want to go down.
“Every day is an opportunity to elevate and to shine and to do something new. My mum’s white, my dad’s black. I’ve got the best of both worlds. I’ve got supporters from all religions, all different ethnic backgrounds, and I love that hopefully I’m a part of helping bring people together that perhaps wouldn’t be together in the past.
“I’ve got fans that have met each other at a race, proposed in front of my car. I’ve got fans that have different groups around the world who have met people in their city and connected and watched the grands prix together and they would never have met before without me being here. And I’m really, really proud of that.”