MONACO (Reuters) - McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are living the Monaco dream after swapping Swiss isolation and Guernsey rain for Mediterranean sunshine.
Sunday’s grand prix in the tiny principality will be a ‘home’ race for both Britons for the first time after recent moves and both said they were feeling the benefits of their relocation.
Hamilton, the 2008 world champion and favorite for the glamour race, moved to Monaco this year after leaving Britain for Geneva and then Zurich for reasons of both personal privacy and tax.
He said that while Switzerland had been one of the most beautiful countries he had ever been to, it was just too quiet for a 27-year-old like him.
“It took ages to go out to a restaurant,” he said.
“Here it’s sunny every day which makes a big difference, there are great restaurants a couple of minutes from where I live, there’s a gym where I live, there’s a pool... before I used to have to drive half an hour to get to the gym.”
Sounding more like a star-struck rookie than a champion and winner of 17 races, Hamilton continued: ”Since I’ve been here I’ve been much happier. Every day I go running the track, I run around the track almost every day and it’s incredible to run around your favorite circuit every day.
”I go through the tunnel and I just cannot believe that I‘m here.
“You have to pinch yourself every day, thinking ‘Wow. I‘m running through the tunnel that greats like Michael (Schumacher) and Ayrton (Senna) used to race around and now I‘m one of those drivers but also living here’.”
Button had lived in Monaco previously but decamped to Guernsey, where his manager also has a house, before deciding to return in February.
For the 2009 champion, it was the weather that clinched it.
“Last week I was out on the bike five times in seven days, and that for me is just perfect,” he told reporters.
”Spending time outside is what I love. I‘m an outdoors person, and the weather here has been good. In Guernsey it rains a lot, and I can’t see where I‘m going because of the clouds.
“I do love Guernsey as a place but I think they’ve had the worst year of weather in 22 years, and I struggled with that a little.”
In Monaco, Button is part of a strong British racing community that includes former McLaren driver David Coulthard and Force India’s Paul Di Resta as well as many other F1 drivers.
Hamilton, despite being his team mate, makes his own arrangements.
“I haven’t seen Lewis since he has been here. And anyway, we don’t do the same training,” said Button.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar