Q&A with Lewis Hamilton: I love my car right now 27 Jul 2009
Prior to his triumph at the Hungaroring on Sunday, McLarens Lewis Hamilton had not won a race since last October - a pretty long wait for a reigning world champion. No wonder then that the Englishman was ecstatic with his and the teams performance, as he explained to his official website
Q: Lewis, an amazing victory and an incredible change of fortunes for McLaren. What does this win mean to you?
Lewis Hamilton: It's been a huge turnaround. At the start of the season, I said that if anybody could do this it would be Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. And you've seen ourselves and Ferrari stepping up our game - and, for sure, if we'd had this car at the beginning of the season I reckon we'd have won more races. But we always said we were six months behind the top guys and, sure enough, six months later we're back at the front!
Q: When did you first start thinking you'd have a chance to win a race this season?
LH: To be honest, it was only as recently as the last race in Germany when I felt I had a good enough car beneath me. I remember I got a little bit excited over the radio, forgetting I'd not switched it off, and the whole team heard me - and then they played it to the guys back at the factory! But hopefully it was a sign of motivation to everyone. Our target was just to get a podium in Hungary but the car just felt incredible. When the team told me I was on the final lap, I felt like asking them to double-check because it felt like ages since I'd last been at the front! I just hope my fans, my family and my team feel the same excitement and satisfaction as I did.
Q: It's incredible to think that this is your first win since China last October!
LH: It's been almost a year - such a long time that it felt surreal to win again. I'd been waiting a long time for this day and I couldn't believe how well it all went. I was able to control the pace at the front. It's normally very hard to achieve that, but on Sunday I was able to use my tyres, fuel and engine perfectly. I felt like we balanced everything and I felt really comfortable in the car. But I was still being pushed by Kimi (Raikkonen) - and made sure I could never back off.
Q: How much of a benefit was the Mercedes-Benz KERS Hybrid in the race?
LH: I love my car right now - the overall package is fantastic. But, I have to say, Mercedes-Benz has continued to improve our engine and I think it's by far the best in Formula One. And our KERS is fantastic - it played a big part in allowing me to get closer to the front on the opening lap and to pass Mark (Webber) in the early laps of the race.
Q: Is it too early to talk about this being a turning point in your season?
LH: Things can only get better for us, I think. The updates we've introduced have made a huge difference and we've now got a massive downforce improvement and the car is a pleasure to drive. We've still got quite a few improvements to make to the car - there are still areas that we haven't yet explored and we've got some more changes coming for Valencia that will hopefully move us even closer to the front. We're going to continue to try and push - but let's not get ahead of ourselves - it would be fantastic to get to Q3 again in the next race. But this is a great reward for everybody back at Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart. I know they're all completely knackered and I hope they get a good break over the next couple of weeks so we can be ready to come back and get some more podiums!
Q: Finally, do you have a message for Felipe Massa after his terrible accident on Saturday?
LH: My thoughts go out to Felipe and his family - in particular to his wife and baby that's on the way. I was so shocked about what happened on Saturday and there wasn't one moment in the race when he wasn't in my mind. It was a very unexpected accident and none of us can imagine what pain he was feeling. Fortunately, the car and the safety barrier did their job - the improvements we've made to safety over the past few years mean he's still around to see another day. Felipe and I have been quite good friends for several years so I have huge respect for him, especially after last year when we had some fantastic battles. I sent him a message and tried to call him on Saturday but, clearly, he still needed to rest and recover from his operation. I was so sad that he couldn't race with us on Sunday but I'm happy that he's safe. I want to wish him a very speedy recovery and look forward to competing against him for many more years.