Lewis Hamilton enjoys being the 'villain' as Ferrari miss out at Monza

Mercedes driver returns to the top of the F1 drivers' standings ahead of Vettel

Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was victorious at Monza
(Image credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Despite getting booed after his victory at the Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton admits he enjoys playing the Formula 1 "villain".

With seven races left this season, Hamilton returned to the top of the F1 drivers' standings with his win in Italy yesterday, knocking Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel off the top spot. The partisan crowd, seeking a victory for Vettel, did not enjoy seeing the Mercedes champion triumph in Ferrari's home grand prix.

Hamilton – who finished the race in front of teammate Valtteri Bottas, in second place, and Vettel, in third – said he didn't mind playing the villain in front of the passionate crowd. Quoted in The Guardian, Hamilton said: "It is to be expected here in Italy – the last ten years it has been common to have that if a Ferrari driver is not on top.

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"Inevitably you are going to be the villain here if you are the one who is stopping the Ferraris. If Valtteri and I were not driving here, Ferrari would have won. We are the villains, but some days I am really happy to be the villain and I don't mind. I just try to remain respectful and I admire their passion."

Even though Mercedes secured a one-two at Monza, Hamilton acknowledged there was still a long way to go in the race for the F1 title. He also praised the Italian fans despite their boos.

"Monza is such a historic GP track," said Hamilton in The Independent. "There are very, very few tracks, if any, like it. It's unique, this is a beautiful part of the world, and to hear the fans all around the track... I'd like to know how loud they were on the scale, their energy is incredible.

“But it’s still close between us and Ferrari and there is still a long way to go, and the next track we go to, Singapore, they should be quick with the extra downforce they have, so I expect our fight to continue.

"It's a long time that Seb has been leading the points, so with all ups and downs we've had, leading the world championship for the first time in 2017 is a great feeling."

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