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Q&A with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton 28 Feb 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 01 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Valencia, Spain, Thursday 24 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 01 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, 14 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton during the Laureus World Sports Awards at the Mariinsky Concert Hall on February 18, 2008 in St.Petersburg, Russia. © Getty Images for Laureus

After his spectacular debut last year, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start this season among the championship favourites. But how does the man himself feel his 2008 preparations have gone? Speaking to his team’s press office, the British driver gave his verdict…

Q: You are coming to the end of the winter testing programme - how has it gone so far?
Lewis Hamilton:
Winter testing has gone really smoothly. We have had steady reliability and the car is feeling good. We have had some great testing days, easily covering the mileage and getting confidence in the car.

Q: Wednesday was your last session with the car before Australia, how was the week?
LH:
We had another productive day on track in Barcelona. It has been a good week, in addition to the test development programme we have been working with the race team on getting back up to speed with activities such as pit stops. As just said the car is feeling good, but as always we still have work to do. A Formula One car is under continuous evolution, and when you look back at how far we have come since the MP4-23 first hit the track in January, it is encouraging. The work doesn’t stop for anyone just because testing has concluded.

Q: Have you fully adapted to driving without traction control?
LH:
Yes, falling back into my old style of driving has been pretty easily. I drove without traction control for many years, so it is what I am used to - there is nothing new.

Q: What areas of the car are you concentrating on in testing at the moment?
LH:
Currently, we are focusing on looking after the tyres which means managing them as best we can for long race distances. On top of that we are improving our aero performance.

Q: Do you have a favourite test track, perhaps a circuit that enables you to thoroughly test each part of the car?
LH:
Different tracks do different things - you have slow-speed corner tracks and high-speed corner tracks. High-speed corner circuits, like Barcelona, enable you to test the downforce and really tell the difference between wings and different components. And then at Jerez, you can test the grip and the balances in the low-speed corners.

Q: How is the MP4-23 different to the MP4-22?
LH:
I can’t really describe how it is different - it is just better. It has got more downforce, more grip, more power. We have got a good car but we still have some work to do.

Q: How is your winter fitness programme going and what areas are you concentrating on?
LH:
My fitness programme has been even better this year. Fitness wise we are focusing on endurance and cardio - strength in arms and shoulders as this is where you probably struggle the most. I am also making sure the neck is strong enough.

Q: Do you enjoy training everyday; how do you find ways to keep it interesting?
LH:
I am lucky in that I have an interesting trainer. Training on your own is often quite boring, but when you have someone as enthusiastic as my trainer, someone who you can just talk and make jokes with, it makes it more interesting.

Q: How do you spend a typical day in this pre-season time?
LH:
I don’t really have a typical day - I have busy marketing days, busy testing days and I have training days. A typical training day consists of getting up early and going for a run and then coming back for good breakfast, I have to be careful of what I eat, so this is very important. I then usually check my emails and then go to the gym, or we might do a sport or go swimming. I have lunch then we may go for a long bike ride and then I come back and go to the gym for an hour or two. By then your day is over and you are exhausted.

Q: You spent last week in Russia, can you tell us what you were up to during this week?
LH:
Last week I was in Russia for a Mobil 1 event, but on the way we stopped off to attend the Laureus Awards, which was a very special experience. I was presented with the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award - I was honoured. I then had a day to rest before we headed to Moscow to attend the Mobil 1 event, which was a really great day.