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Q&A with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton 15 Jan 2007

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Test Driver. McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 Launch, Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia, Spain, 15 January 2007. World © Sutton

With McLaren’s new challenger, the MP4-22, about to be launched, race driver Lewis Hamilton discusses his new team mate Fernando Alonso and his own championship aspirations…

Q: What motivates you?
Lewis Hamilton:
I am motivated by a desire to be the best at whatever I decide to put my mind too. Once I have decided to take up a challenge, my inner self will not let me give up unless I have achieved my goal. I love motor racing and I have done so since I first watched it on television when I was about five. The key element in all of this is that I am not here to take part, I am here to win, and I will do whatever mentally and physically it takes to achieve that in due course. I do not plan to waste this opportunity.

Q: What about working with double world champion Fernando Alonso are you looking forward to the most?
LH:
It is truly an honour for me to be given this opportunity to work alongside Fernando in my first year as a Formula One driver. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he has achieved. The shear size of the challenge of working with him and competing against him is what is most exciting. All of my former team mates have been hugely competitive and the challenge and excitement comes from having to find the answers to the most important question, 'just how far do I need to push myself to beat that person and just how far can I go?' With Fernando being a two time world champion, I know I have to dig deeper than ever before which is what I love about being a racing driver.

Q: How does it feel to be officially launched as a McLaren driver alongside your team mates and car that you will compete with in 2007?
LH:
The feeling is indescribable. Growing up I always dreamed of racing for McLaren and now, I am. The thought of racing and working with my teammates is a great feeling, to be driving a McLaren is literally surreal. I am extremely thankful to my family as without their unwavering support and hard work I would not be here in this position. I am tremendously grateful to Ron Dennis, Martin Whitmarsh, and Norbert Haug for the long-term support and guidance they have given me for so many years and for this wonderful opportunity.

Q: When did you first dream of becoming a Formula One driver, and did you then imagine it would be with one of the leading teams within the sport?
LH:
It is difficult to be sure but like most kids, I am sure I dreamt of one day racing with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Now my dream has literally turned into a reality and I am driving not only in Formula One but also for the same team as Ayrton and Alain did. I worked hard to make it to Formula One but never imagined it would actually be with a team such as McLaren and in my first year!

Q: 2006 was an incredibly successful year for you, how will 2007 continue this personal high?
LH:
2006 was a fantastic year, a year in which everything I had learned through karting, Formula Renault and Formula 3 all came together in GP2. I learned a great deal in GP2 and thank Frederic Vasseur and everyone at ART for their support. At the end of each year, I sit down with my manager and we review and evaluate the year and come up with a plan for the following year. 2007 will be no different to any other year. Once I have a plan, I always follow it to the end. I know I have to work harder to be stronger mentally and physically and to prepare myself for whatever may come my way in Formula One, but I am ready and relishing the challenge.

Q: What makes you so passionate about Formula One racing?
LH:
If you want to be the best at whatever career you choose in life, then you have to compete at the very top. Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport. From the time I started my racing career in Cadet Karts in 1994 right the way through to Formula Renault, Formula 3, and GP2, I have dedicated my life to achieving my goal of becoming a Formula One world champion. I am now another huge step closer to reaching my ultimate dream.

Q: Are you looking forward to running the McLaren car on the street course at the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias in front of the fans?
LH:
Now that is going to be something incredibly special. Starting the New Year as a McLaren Formula One driver is extremely exciting and I cannot wait to drive the streets around the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias. I am very excited about the launch of the new MP4-22 and just being there as a Formula One driver. Sounds strange every time I say that, but I am going to enjoy myself just as much if not more than the fans!

Q: What do you think of the new McLaren livery?
LH:
I think that the team's car has been by far the most elegant car on the grid for years and in 2006, the MP4-21 took beauty to another level. The new 2007 McLaren MP4-22 is off the hook! Just wait and see, this car will blow the socks of anyone who even looks at it!

Q: When do you get your hands on the MP4-22 for the first time?
LH:
I believe the first time I will get my hands on the new car will be at the launch on the 15th but to drive it will be 24th January when we start our on-track test programme. I have been able to watch the development and progress of the new car in the wind tunnel and have been extremely impressed by how hard everybody has been working to get the car ready to challenge for championships in 2007.

Q: Have you been spending much time at the McLaren Technology Centre working with the engineering team?
LH:
I am in the McLaren Technology Centre everyday. I have relocated to Woking to be close to the team and the facility. I train everyday in the gym, meet team members for training and development sessions, and generally get to know the team and watch closely the progress of the new car. It also gives me the chance to work closely with my new engineers and for us to get to know each other like the back of our hands!

Q: What are your aims for the 2007 season with McLaren?
LH:
My aim is always to win but as it is my debut season, I will be working hard to learn as much as possible from Fernando and the whole McLaren team. I aim to do a steady job for the team and help them progress towards both constructors' and drivers championships.