Coronavirus: Revitalised Hamilton reveals problem with closed-door F1 races

Omnisport

Lewis Hamilton fears Formula One races without fans will feel "worse than a test day" but he feels rejuvenated after an unexpected break and is raring to drive again.

The six-time world champion has yet to compete this year, with the season having been effectively suspended in the week leading up to the Australian Grand Prix.

Given the prevalence of the coronavirus pandemic, there appears little prospect of fans being allowed into circuits this season, meaning any race weekend that can happen may lack a familiar crowd buzz.

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The current plan is for the season to begin in Austria on July 5, with Hamilton's home British Grand Prix scheduled for a fortnight later.

Driving at Silverstone in front of empty stands leaves Hamilton, a six-time winner of the race, rather cold.

"It gave me a really empty feeling because the fans really make that race," Hamilton said.

"Around the world, all the races we go to, the more fans there, the more atmosphere you have.

"It's going to be very empty. But what's great is I'm getting messages from people around the world who are struggling because they're not getting to watch sports, and it just shows how significant sport is in people's lives.

"It brings us all together and it's so exciting and captivating. I don't know how exciting it's going to be for people watching it on TV, but it's going to be better than nothing."

In a video interview released by Mercedes on Saturday, Hamilton said: "For us, it's going to be like a test day - probably even worse than a test day in the sense where on a test day there's not many people that come to Barcelona to watch, but there are still some.

"Whereas here, you're going to have nobody in the crowd and you're just going to see empty seats as you're driving down.

"But racing is racing and I've not really had - any of us have had - the chance to unleash the potential of our cars, so I'm excited to get back in."

Hamilton spoke of finding time to catch up with friends on video calls, learning a little French, and working on aspects of his fitness that might otherwise have been neglected.

He makes no secret of the fact he believes he has benefited from a break from the sport.

"It's been nice not to be bothered so much, to have a bit of that time, but I miss seeing my team, I miss seeing my friends as everyone does," he said.

"But in some ways I looked at it at the beginning and thought there have been times in the past five years or so when I thought to myself it'll be good for my mind and my body to take a rest for a year.

"But you can't step away. I don't think that for an athlete that's in their prime that is ever a good thing, to step away for a year and then come back.

"Technology moves so fast, at such a rate, you need to stay on top of this car and what is the development - to take a sabbatical is not on the cards.

"But we've been handed a part-sabbatical which I'm enjoying - and I feel fresher and healthier than I've ever been and the struggle is for everyone to keep your mind clear.

"Some days you're sluggish and other days you're positive. The key is to remain centred, find things you enjoy doing. Don't waste this time."

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