Hamilton: Ferrari are beatable at Silverstone 01 Jul 2008
It may be a cliche, but in Formula One racing youre only as good as your last result. McLarens Lewis Hamilton, the golden boy of 2007, has fallen from media favour over recent races thanks to a series of errors that have seen him lose his grip on the championship lead.
Hamilton, however, is a fighter. And as he heads to Silverstone for his home race this weekend, he spoke to Formula1.com about how he - and his team - are more than ready to bounce back and take on the might of Ferrari
Q: Lewis, the start to your Formula One career was very different to the norm, with your debut season completed in near championship-winning style. What makes this year so different to last year?
Lewis Hamilton: 2007 was a fantastic year for me, and an amazing experience. This year I am only into my second season of Formula On, but I am now the longest serving race driver at McLaren, with a years more experience here than Heikki (Kovalainen). With this comes the additional pressure from within myself to do my best for the team, even though I am still on a huge learning curve. In many ways, it is like having a rookie season all over again!
Q: Red Bulls David Coulthard has said that in your first year its easy to be cool because you dont think, you just drive, while in the second you think more and the easiness of it all gets lost. Have you experienced something like this?
LH: For me, the easiest place to be during a Grand Prix weekend is in the car - nothing else matters when youre out on the track. But its not easy to separate the job into just thinking and driving. To win in Formula One requires a whole range of skills and abilities - and youre always thinking about how to maximise everything, even when youre away from the racetrack. But I should perhaps emphasise that driving is the greatest part of my job - its the reason we all become Grand Prix drivers - and Im sure its the one element that keeps us all coming back for more.
Q: Heading to your home Grand Prix, how do your emotions differ this year from those 12 months ago?
LH: To be honest, I dont feel any different. I love racing at Silverstone and look forward to the British Grand Prix for two reasons. Firstly, its my home race and it has a special place in my heart. Its awesome to get so much support from the fans and to see the flags and banners in the grandstands. Secondly, its just an amazing track. Some of the corners are incredibly fast, its the kind of place where you really should go and watch a Formula One car at the limit. I tested at Silverstone last Thursday and it brought it all back - the fans, the support and the track itself. Silverstone will be one of the highlights of my year and I hope I can make it special. Having said that, our competitors will be trying every bit as hard as we will, and I have great respect for them. So all I can say is that well give it our very best shot.
Q: What developments have you been testing last week and what changes can we expect to see on the car for the Silverstone race? Will they be enough to catch Ferrari?
LH: Were always bringing new parts to the test and Silverstone was no different. Heikki was in the car for two days and I only jumped in for the final day, but I got to try out some promising new aero upgrades and some improvements to the fuel and lubricants. Theyre only little things, but thats where you can make a difference. Ferrari will be strong, but not unbeatable. Weve got a great package, weve worked hard on performance in high-speed corners and Im confident ahead of the race.
Q: So what result are you realistically hoping for?
LH: Well, winning your home race is something every driver wants to achieve. When I started the season my idea was to win the first race, to win Monte Carlo, and to win my home Grand Prix, so I'm ready for the challenge at Silverstone.
Q: It has been said that in winning a world championship you can make one mistake, maybe two at most. Does that mean your hopes are over for 2008?
LH: No, I think that this years title race is really close - probably even closer than last years. And theres no sign that its getting any easier. There isnt one driver whos comfortably ahead; Ive had a few no-scores but so also have the two Ferrari drivers. I think consistency is going to be important as we head into the second half of the season, but Im only 10 points behind Massa and the maths is clear: you can make that up in a single race if all the cards fall in the right way.
Q: Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen made up a bigger points deficit to win last years title. Do you take heart from that and do you think you can do the same?
LH: Kimi was 17 points behind with two races to go last year. The fact that he not only came back but also won the title tells you a lot about how unpredictable this sport can be. You can never take anything for granted. And thats why Im still confident and focused. Weve got 10 races remaining, 100 points - its all to play for; and Im ready for it.