SILVERSTONE, England, July 5 (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is backing England to go all the way to the soccer World Cup final in Russia and plans to be there if they do.
With England having booked their place in Saturday’s quarter-final against Sweden by beating Colombia on penalties, Hamilton joked that he might have to take a penalty of his own to watch that game before chasing a fifth successive home British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone on Sunday.
“What is the penalty for missing the (post-qualifying) press conference on Saturday?” the Mercedes driver asked at a news conference on Thursday.
“We can talk about it. Is it negotiable? I want to be watching the game,” he smiled. “I had to watch it on my phone the other day, but at least I got to see it.”
Saturday’s qualifying ends just as England’s match in Samara kicks off, but the fastest three drivers have to attend the subsequent news conference. Hamilton can expect to be one of them.
There are penalties for non-attendance and Hamilton could be summoned to face the race stewards if he failed to turn up, which could also prevent him from watching the game.
England have only ever reached one World Cup final previously, when they won at home in 1966, but are in what is considered the easier half of the draw for this year’s tournament.
“I’ve booked my day off, next Sunday, I’ve booked that day off, I’m like ‘keep it free because I want to be in Russia for that day, supporting them’,” said Hamilton.
Silverstone is the final race of an unprecedented triple header of grands prix on successive weekends after the schedule was bunched up to avoid a clash with the World Cup final.
Hamilton, a point behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel after nine races has been dominant at Silverstone in recent years, with an army of fans cheering him to four successive victories.
Another on Sunday would make him the first driver to win six times in Britain. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin Editing by David Goodman)