Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Silverstone will be tough for McLaren 09 Jun 2009
World champion Lewis Hamilton is currently experiencing the toughest season of his Formula One career, with just nine points from the first seven races. Hopes of defending his title may be all but over, but that doesnt mean Hamilton isnt enjoying his racing. Speaking to his official website, the Briton reflected on his Turkish Grand Prix weekend, and looked ahead to the challenge of his home race
Q: For the world champion to finish 13th ought to be considered a bit of a disappointment, but you seemed quite upbeat after the Turkish Grand Prix, why was that?
Lewis Hamilton: Racing in the midfield is different from racing at the front. When you're trying to win a championship and you're battling at the front, your approach is different: you've got to look after your tyres, make sure your strategy is correct, match the guy in front or behind and ensure your pitstops are perfect. It's a very disciplined way of racing. When you're fighting to get past other cars and battling your way up the grid, it's actually a lot more straightforward and can still be fun - it's all about you and the other driver: how do you get past him, how do you stay ahead, can you pass him in the pitstops?
Q: Almost every driver begins their Formula One career with a few tough years, but for you it's been the other way round. Now you're sampling your first taste of the difficulties of the sport - how does it feel?
LH: It's true that this year is my first difficult year of Formula 1, but it is not the first time in my career that I've had difficult and tough years. I've gone through difficult stages of karting and junior formulae as well, and I've also been very lucky throughout my career to have been in many top teams and driven some great cars. It is character-building, you have some good years, and you have some bad years, but as long as you learn from both the good and the bad then you come out a stronger person. With each day, I think I'm becoming a better person and a better driver because of it though. I've been through some fantastic times with the team and I'm sure we'll get back there soon. In the meantime, it will take discipline, determination and hard work to get back to the front. We might not do it this year, and we expect Silverstone to be a tough race for our car package, but it will come.
Q: So you must know how it feels for Jenson, who went through some very tough times before achieving the success he's had this year.
LH: I've know Jenson for many years - he's a fantastic driver and he thoroughly deserves the opportunity he's been given. He's waited years for the opportunity to drive a competitive car and, right now, he's showing exactly what he can do with it. I've always been impressed by Jenson: before I got to Formula 1, I thought he coped with the bad times really well, he never forgot why he was there and he never let the team down. That's why he really deserves this success. The reason he's leading the world championship is because he's not made a single mistake since the very first lap of winter testing. It's that sort of preparation that helps you win championships - and he totally deserves to be in this position. It's great for the Brawn GP team and Mercedes-Benz and it's going to be great for the British fans because they'll have two British drivers to support at Sliverstone.
Q: The performance of your car suggests Silverstone will be tough...
LH: We fully expect next weekend to be very difficult. Firstly, Silverstone is one of the fastest courses on the calendar and it's clear that our car doesn't behave well through fast corners. It's also harder to harvest KERS there than at other circuits because there's not too many heavy braking spots - to give you an idea, we don't touch the brakes from the exit of Luffield right down to Stowe - about half the circuit - and there are no slow exits followed by long straights where you can use KERS for a boost. It will be difficult, but I'm looking forward to just racing in my home country, in front of my home fans, enjoying Linda's home cooking and soaking it all in.
Q: What makes Silverstone special?
LH: The track itself is... it's just awesome - it's one of the biggest buzzes you get as a Formula 1 driver. You come across the start/finish line in seventh gear, on a good day in qualifying you can take Copse just about flat, just scrubbing off speed with the tyres as you go, then down into Maggotts and Becketts - just an incredible feeling as you throw the car into those corners. Your whole body feels the g-forces as you gradually slow the car down, scrub off the speed and come down through the gears before smoothing out the exit as much as you can onto the Hangar Straight. It's only when you get to Stowe that you actually touch the brakes. There's nowhere else in the world where you're off the brakes for as long as we are at Silverstone. And every lap feels incredible. It also goes without saying that the atmosphere the British fans create is out of this world, the support all British drivers receive at the track is phenomenal and I am looking forward to going back this year to see them again.