SILVERSTONE, U.K. -- Lewis Hamilton says he will be on the first plane to Russia if England makes it to the World Cup final on July 15.
This weekend's British Grand Prix coincides with the English national team's biggest game in recent memory: the quarter-final against Sweden, which starts the moment qualifying is scheduled to finish at Silverstone. With the nation gripped by World Cup fever Hamilton, who is looking to claim a fifth consecutive home race victory, does not want to miss out, especially as the showpiece event takes place on the only July weekend without an F1 race.
Hamilton has another link to the England team beyond his nationality. The four-time world champion went to school in Stevenage with Manchester United midfielder Ashley Young, who has been a regular fixture in Gareth Southgate's World Cup teams so far.
"They are definitely on a high at the minute and it's going to need to continue," Hamilton said during Thursday's press conference at the Silverstone circuit. "There's so much pressure on them being that it is the World Cup but there's so much support for them. England is just known for its excited fans. There's so much passion in England for sport.
"You experience it here and you see it in football stadiums. Even watching it myself, I don't watch enough football, I played it as a kid and I was massively passionate about it as a kid and I used to collect all the stickers and stamps and magazines. The passion is crazy from everyone watching their country play.
"I used to remember playing with Ashley at school but just watching on the edge of your seat, the passion is crazy for everyone that's watching their country play. It's like its in your DNA, it's crazy. It's so exciting. I've booked my day off for next Sunday. I'm going to keep it free because I'm going to be in Russia that day, supporting them."
The timing of the match is likely to cause a headache for Hamilton if he qualifies strongly on Saturday, as the top three are required immediately in a press conference afterwards, followed by a visit to the TV pen.
During the session he laughed and responded to another World Cup question by saying: "I was actually going to ask, what's the penalty for missing a press conference on Saturday? Is it negotiable?
"I want to be watching the game. I had to watch it on my phone the other day but at least I got to see it."
Although he was joking, skipping the Saturday press conference would likely result in a fine for the Mercedes driver, or a 'non-driving' reprimand from the FIA.