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F1 champion Lewis Hamilton opens up about mental health struggles

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Six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has urged people to continue talking about mental health, saying he has had "a lot of difficult days" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hamilton has opened up about his time away from the racetrack, saying the extraordinary circumstances of the year have been both a blessing and a curse. While they have helped him focus on relationships with those closest to him, he said the relentless schedule of racing since F1 returned has made it difficult to focus on anything else.

Posting to social media on Wednesday, Hamilton wrote: "There are two sides to me. First, the one you see on TV.

"The competitive, cut throat, hungry racer in me that comes out when I close the visor. When the visor is down I come alive, all my fears, insecurities and doubts are cast aside and my focus kicks in and will not break until the job is done. It feels like I get to have the superpowers I always dreamed of having, but behind the wheel.

"Second, theres [sic] just me. Someone who is figuring life out, day by day, just like you. Trying to find inner peace, manage time, balance work and life, finding time for family and friends, working on managing my emotions, and trying to find time for the other things I am passionate about. Like many of you, I'm just trying to be and do my best in everything.

"I also have a lot of difficult days. Especially in the bubble that we're currently in. You get lonely, you miss your friends and family, and with back to back race weeks it means there's not much time for anything but work. So I'm grateful for the ones closest to me helping me to keep a balance, even if it's just thru [sic] text, phone or FaceTime.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's never a bad thing to ask for help if you need it, or to tell somebody how you feel. Showing your vulnerable side doesn't make you weak, instead, I like to think of it as a chance to become stronger."

Hamilton was asked about the post on Thursday during a news conference looking ahead to Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. The six-time world champion, who is two wins away from equaling Michael Schumacher's record 91 Grand Prix victories, said he hopes it encourages others to be more open about their more difficult moments.

"I think as competitors it's not the first thing you think about doing, being open and expressing yourself," Hamilton said. "But I think it's very important, more important than what's happening here.

It's not really about me necessarily, it's about in the world everybody's struggling with something. It's creating parallels you can relate to. No one can relate to what it feels like in these Formula One cars, it's difficult to explain the things that we are experiencing in the car.

"We arrive and you're on TV for three days and it all looks pretty good, but the fact is you only see the tip of the iceberg. There's all the stuff that goes on in the background. So that's what I was trying to convey, that it's OK to have the difficult days, they're the growing days, I think, the days you find the most growth.

"I think I'm managing. I've got a great group of people around me. I think COVID's really given me the time to really focus on communication and improving that between family and getting a deeper relationship with my mum, getting a deeper relationship with my dad, my brother, my sister, those that I work with. So I think there's lots of positives."