Lewis Hamilton blasts French Open chiefs for Naomi Osaka fine and admits he too struggled to deal with pressure
LEWIS HAMILTON admits he struggled to cope with the pressure of being thrusted into the spotlight when he made his F1 debut in 2007.
The F1 world champion was quizzed about tennis star Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open after declining the tournament's requirement to conduct a press conference.
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Hamilton, who made his debut with McLaren at 22, a year younger than Osaka, says he too initially found it tough going.
He said: "When you're young you're thrown into the limelight and the spotlight, it weighs heavily on you and probably most of us are not prepared.
"I remember when I got into F1 the team had PR [public relations] and I was never prepared for being in front of a camera.
"I was never guided as to what to look out for and helped to navigate through that.
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"So you just learn through the mistakes and it's incredibly nerve-wracking especially when you have all good intentions but people take advantage of it.
"I've learned the hard way and made many mistakes and I still do today. It can be daunting, still, standing behind a camera.
"It's not the easiest. Particularly if you're an introvert and you do struggle to be under those sorts of pressures.
"Some people are less comfortable than others. I've learned over my time here, and I'm trying to continue to learn how [to] engage.
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"There are scenarios where, for example Naomi's scenario, she didn't feel comfortable for her own personal health not to do something and the backlash is ridiculous.
"People are not taking into account that she's a human being and she's saying that [she's] not well enough to do this right now.
"I think that needs to be really looked into and how people react to that and rather be supportive and uplifting to her."
Hamilton, who is preparing for this weekend's Azerbaijan GP, does not think that fining Osaka was the right move from tennis chiefs.
He added: "I applaud her for her bravery because it's now asking those in power, putting them in question and making them have to think about how they react.
"The way they reacted was not good, with the fine. Someone talking about their personal mental health and then being fined for it, that wasn't cool.
"They could have definitely handled it better. I hope they take a deep dive into it and find a better way to navigate in future.
"As athletes we are pushing ourselves to the limit, we are on the edge, and we're only human beings."
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