MONZA, Italy -- After receiving boos on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix, race winner Lewis Hamilton said he enjoyed playing the villain at Ferrari's home race.
Mercedes took a dominant one-two victory on Ferrari's home turf on Sunday, with Hamilton finishing over 30 seconds clear of title rival Sebastian Vettel in third. As is the tradition at Monza, Ferrari's fans flooded onto the pit straight for the podium ceremony and as Hamilton was interviewed by former F1 driver Martin Brundle, the crowd responded with a mix of boos and cheers.
When he was asked about the reception after the race, the new championship leader said he enjoyed the pantomime routine each year at Monza.
"I had a really nice tune playing in my head, so it actually went over my head!" he 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.
"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 today, Ferrari would have won. We are the villains but some days I am really happy to be the villain and I don't mind."
During Friday practice, Hamilton was one of just four drivers to receive audible cheers as he took to the track (along with Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and former-Ferrari star Fernando Alonso), but on Sunday afternoon he was met with boos and jeers from the large grandstand overlooking the grid. Hamilton said he had noticed the Italian fans reaction to him slowly change over the years and hopes he can slowly convert the Tifosi to Mercedes fans.
"I just try to remain respectful and I admire their passion. They feel a little bit more like football fans here -- the aggressive ones -- but it is all in the name of love for the red car. In amongst them I see there are Italians who have crossed from Ferrari to Mercedes, and bit by bit, year on year we convert a few more, it may only be a couple each time but I am grateful for those ones."