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Lewis Hamilton no-show leaves F1 fans fuming despite spectacular London parade

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 12/07/2017 Philip Duncan

© Provided by Evening Standard Limited Lewis Hamilton's bizarre no-show at tonight's spectacular London parade was greeted by a number of jeers as frustrated fans vented their fury at his absence.

The 32-year-old was scheduled to lead a star-studded cast as Formula One took over the capital for a demonstration run in the build-up to Sunday's British Grand Prix.

But Hamilton was the lone absentee of this year's crop of 20 drivers after he chose to go on holiday rather than appear in front of thousands of British supporters.

Indeed Sebastian Vettel - whom Hamilton trails in the championship by 20 points - Jenson Button, the 2009 title winner who flew in from California, and Hamilton's former rival Nico Rosberg, were all here at a sun-bathed London on Wednesday evening. Double world champion Fernando Alonso and Britain's Jolyon Palmer also participated.

​Vettel, who deliberately drove into Hamilton in Azerbaijan, was given a warm welcome by the London crowd. So, too, was Hamilton's long-term rival Rosberg, who arrived on-stage with last year's championship trophy.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff blamed the pressure of Hamilton's title battle with Vettel for his curious absence. The Briton lost further ground to his rival at the last round of the title race in Austria after he finished only fourth, with his weekend blighted by a gearbox issue.

"Lewis feels he is in such a tough championship fight that he needed the days off after Austria but you can see him at Silverstone," Wolff said to the crowd.

Wolff's explanation however, was greeted by a number of boos. Later, Damon Hill, Britain's 1996 world champion, urged the fans to get behind Hamilton who begins his bid for a record-equalling fifth British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. Again, some sections of the Trafalgar Square crowd jeered. The day concluded with each driver introduced one-by-one on to the stage to further highlight Hamilton's absence.

© Provided by Evening Standard Limited The reaction of the fans here followed a thinly-veiled dig at Hamilton by Formula One's new American owners Liberty Media.

"We invited teams and drivers to join us at F1 Live London and we had a fantastic response from all the teams and 19 of the drivers," a Formula One spokesperson said earlier on Wednesday.

American conglomerate Liberty, which took over the sport in January, worked for months on the impressive London demonstration - the first on the streets of the capital in more than a decade - as a number of F1 cars from different eras ran along Whitehall from Trafalgar Square.

Understandably, they are understood to be surprised and disappointed by Hamilton's failure to attend.

Hamilton's timing for his break is curious given that the British Grand Prix, a race he described earlier this month as the most important on the calendar, is just days away.

Formula One also heads for its traditional four-week summer break next month in which the sport is effectively on shutdown for a fortnight.

"To my loving fans, I can't wait to see you in Silverstone," Hamilton said in a short message on his Twitter account on Tuesday. "Until then, I'm away on a two day break. God Bless you all. Love, Lewis."

The 32-year-old then uploaded a short video in which he appeared to be partying with friends. He was however, silent across all of his social media networks on Wednesday.

Hamilton will face the music when he is tomorrow due to appear in front of the media at Silverstone ahead of his home race.

Related: Handshake declined between rivals (Provided by Sky Sports)

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