McLaren on the up - Q&A with Lewis Hamilton 13 Jul 2009
Lewis Hamiltons German Grand Prix may have ended in disappointment, but it was clear that McLarens latest upgrades were working - the world champion finished top in two out of three practice sessions and qualified an impressive fifth fastest. An amazing start meant he also led the race briefly, before a rear puncture put paid to his chances. Speaking to his official website, Hamilton recounts the highs and lows of his Nurburgring weekend
Q: A disappointing race - but there must be many positives to take away from the weekend?
Lewis Hamilton: It definitely wasn't the result we were hoping for before the race. We'd had such an encouraging practice and qualifying and I thought I could get a good result for myself and the team, but it just wasn't to be. It was just unfortunate and disappointing that I got a puncture at the first corner and as we now know that it subsequently damaged the upper floor and brake duct. That was my race basically over because I had a handling imbalance for the rest of the afternoon, there was no safety concern but we did lose downforce and made the car difficult to control.
Q: But you must go to Hungary feeling very encouraged?
LH: Absolutely, for sure. I know I said that I was disappointed after Sunday's race, but it is only natural and we have to look on the positive side: if we'd turned up at the Nurburgring and discovered that the upgrades we'd brought were a disappointment then it would have been a huge blow to everyone, but as far as we know, the upgrades made a huge difference to our performance last weekend and I'm hopeful we can carry that performance and more through to Hungary.
Q: Is it too early to call this a McLaren revival?
LH: It is not a revival, it is as I've said before a work-in-progress. The team has more improvements planned, and it would be great if we could further close the gap to the leaders and think about attacking at some of the races, but we are remaining realistic: Red Bull and Brawn have both got fantastic cars and it will be incredibly hard to just turn up and be able to compete with them.
At least we are now on the right track with our upgrades and the development process continues for both this year and the next - and while it's nice to think about race results and running at the front - as I've said before I now look at this year as a development year for all of us and one which will only make us stronger. I'm confident that we'll have some stronger showings in the next few races, and then we should have a clearer idea of just how we'll go at the end of the season.
Q: How important do you think the Nurburgring performance was for everybody's morale in the team?
LH: I believe everyone was encouraged, relieved, happy and positive that all the effort and hard work back at the factory was starting to deliver performance gains on the track. For the first time this year I actually felt that I had a race car under me that I could control instead of it controlling me. Unfortunately the team were only able to complete one set of upgrades, as they were originally intended for Hungary, and so Heikki (Kovalainen) had to run with some of the older parts, but he had a great race and result considering.
Q: Finally, how did you enjoy your drive around the old 14-mile Nordschleife earlier in the weekend?
LH: I just love driving the Nordschleife. I drove round it on Thursday morning in an AMG Mercedes-Benz - firstly with Bernd Schneider showing me the way and then in separate cars. It's such an amazing track - it is the most challenging car circuit in the world. Formula One would be great at the Nordschleife, only problem is the fans would probably only see you go round a handful of times as it takes over 10-15 mins to drive a lap! Some of my engineers ran a lap around the track on Saturday evening after qualifying, it took them about two hours!