Hamilton and Button fight a losing battle, for fun
Effingham: Lurking behind a shattered tree trunk and stacks of paint-splattered oil drums, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were ready to shoot any reporter who moved into their line of fire.
One week before the British Grand Prix, McLaren had decided it would be a good idea for a select group of Formula One reporters to take on the team`s two world champions in a paintball battle.
"Expect to spend your afternoon being shot at in a muddy forest in deepest Surrey," the invitation had warned and, despite some misgivings, the media duly obliged.
It might have proved a painful experience, with both sides nursing bruises afterwards, but it was also too good to miss.
Hamilton, who came up with the idea and was accompanied by younger brother Nic, had already made clear that he would be every bit as aggressive as he was on the racetrack.
"I`m a ninja in battle...I`ll be the first to shoot you," he had warned Reuters at the previous European Grand Prix in Valencia. "It`s awesome. But it really hurts when you get hit."
The 25-year-old was reminded of that when he made a glory dash down the flank only to collect a stinging shot in the backside from the crouching correspondent for a newspaper.
"I got taken out by a journalist," the 2008 champion muttered in mock disbelief after he had limped off the field of combat.
Reigning champion Button, who had joked that he wanted reporters to have the names of their publications on their backs so he knew who to go for, had already taken a hit on the visor of his helmet.
If the paintball action proved to be a losing battle for the McLaren duo, Sunday`s race at Silverstone promises to be the opposite with each gunning for victory over the other.
The two Englishmen are one-two in the overall standings ahead of a home grand prix that each has every intention of winning.
"How much better could it get for the British fans at the moment?" asked Button. "We are going to rock up with a good car and hopefully we will be fighting for a victory."
The battle in the woods, apart from allowing McLaren to show once again what good sports their drivers are and how well they rub along together, was a welcome break from the usual routine leading up to a race.
"I should do it more often," said Hamilton. "I really should do more stuff like this with friends...I am trying to put things in place where I have more time to rest and relax and do things like this," he added.
"I`m 25 and before I know it I`ll be 30 and time is just going to blow past so I really, really want to enjoy it," continued the championship leader, who spent much of last week on holiday in the south of France.
"I`m enjoying the racing more than ever and I want to enjoy doing other things. There should be no limit to the things you can do, the experiences and the fun you can have."
Button, who has yet to stand on the podium at Silverstone in more than a decade in F1, was also feeling chilled.
"It`s like racing a Formula One car," he said of firing pellets of paint at shadowy enemies. "You don`t think about anything else other than what you are doing. Nothing else goes through your mind. We don`t do that very often in our lives."
"A lot has happened since the last British Grand Prix for both of us," added the 30-year-old, looking forward to Silverstone.
"The British public have been very supportive even in the dark days (with Honda) when my car wasn`t competitive so going there now as a world champion and second in the championship to my British team mate is going to be an electric atmosphere."