Lewis Hamilton Q&A - Passing the crown to a worthy successor 22 Oct 2009
At last years Brazilian Grand Prix, a fifth-place finish driving a Mercedes-powered car numbered 22 was enough for an Englishman to beat his Brazilian rival to the drivers title. That man was McLarens Lewis Hamilton. Last Sunday in Sao Paulo saw an eerie repeat of those circumstances, only this time the man was Brawn GPs Jenson Button. Talking to his official website, Hamilton reflects on his own dramatic drive at Interlagos and passes on some words of advice for his successor
Q: The Brazilian Grand Prix was a fantastic event for motorsport fans. Firstly, how was your race?
Lewis Hamilton: I had a fantastic race! It was awesome. I really enjoyed myself out there. I raced my heart out, kept pushing like crazy and got a result I never expected at the end of the day. My car felt fantastic too: I could really push, our strategy was perfect and I was able to make the most of it.
I think weve actually got a pretty solid car now. I know that Brazil played to our strengths a little, but, still, to come from 17th to third was a very encouraging result for the whole team. The most important thing is that we can keep developing this performance and take it with us into next year.
Q: Any words to Jenson?
LH: He knows that Ive been supporting him all year, and Ive seen him and given him my congratulations. Ive been saying for months that hed be a worthy world champion and I think hell be a great ambassador for our sport. Its great that the title will stay in Great Britain for another year, and Id like to think that well both be up there next year fighting alongside each other to ensure that we keep bringing it back home to home soil.
We both want to make our country proud, and you couldnt really have asked for Jenson to do any more this season: hes won six races and hes always been in control of himself and been a great asset for the Brawn GP team. He will make a great champion. Im proud of what hes done - both him and his team - and I think hell come to Abu Dhabi with that weight off his shoulders and ready to make a real race of it. It would be fantastic for Britain if we could get a great double result at the last race of the season.
Q: Youve now passed on the mantle of world champion to Jenson Button - do you have any advice for him?
LH: Becoming world champion is a strange and unreal feeling. I heard on Sunday that Jenson kept on saying, Im champion, Im world champion, and I kind of knew exactly what he meant. Its all too much to take in at once - especially in one day. For me, I still dont really think of myself as world champion - of course, when I first saw the number one on my car, it really meant something, and when I arrived at Melbourne for the first race, it also meant something new to me. But I still have the same determination to succeed that Ive always had.
My only advice for Jenson would be to let it slowly sink in, and to enjoy it. Being champion will pull you in directions that you hadnt previously thought about, and its all about resetting your balance, finding calmness and refocusing for the new challenges ahead. But its also an incredibly uplifting feeling, a total relief and it brings something special to your life. Hell be a great champion.
Q: Looking back on your year as champion, how would you describe it?
LH: Well, its been a fantastic year for me. Its been very tough and demanding at times, but I think Im actually a very different person now than I was a year ago - and some of that comes directly and indirectly from being world champion. I think this year has helped me to understand and appreciate more the challenge and thrill of Formula One. Id like to think Im a more rounded individual as a result of my season, and I definitely think Im a better driver.
In many ways, though, Im still the same. Im still a fighter, and I still want to make sure that I keep my family, and my friends and my team close to me. And Ill be fighting to take home a win in Abu Dhabi - thats very important because a victory there will keep us all buzzing for the winter, and thats great for our motivation. And, of course, Ill be bringing the fight to the first race of next year - Im already looing forward to it. It cant come soon enough.
Q: Any favourite moments?
LH: Getting the upgrade package at the Nurburgring was a real buzz, but also an incredible relief, because I could finally feel I had a proper racing car underneath me. The first win of the year in Hungary was amazing, because wed worked so hard for it, and every single person in our team deserved that win. Winning in Singapore was amazing too - such a hard race. Im really proud to have won there - its an incredible circuit and a real flagship race for Formula One.
Also, racing at Suzuka for the first time was a dream come true for me. And Im also really proud of my drive in Brazil - I never thought Id even get in the points let along get on the podium. And Im encouraged by our progress because I know that its all feeding in to our development for 2010.