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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: The number one’s there for a reason 28 Sep 2009

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 Emilio Botin (ESP) President Santander celebrates with Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24 celebrates at the end of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton has had a tough title defence - at the start of the year even points were hard to come by. But after his second win of the season in Singapore on Sunday, the world champion believes the team are now well set for 2010, and possibly more 2009 victories, as he explained to his official website…

Q: How important was the win in Singapore?
Lewis Hamilton:
It was very important for our team and I'm very proud of what we did. To see all the men and women in the team wearing their rocket red victory T-shirts is always a great feeling for me. To be number one and to finish number one is the best thing that can ever really happen. I was so happy because I just love winning! It was a very physically demanding race: we didn't have too much pressure from behind, but winning is never easy. So when you do it to perfection, it's so satisfying.

Q: Was it hard to maintain your focus when other drivers were making mistakes?
LH:
It was no way easy at all - it's so hot. We wear thermal racewear - it's like doing a workout with all your clothes on - in the sauna. The concentration you need here is beyond anyone's imagination. You get out on the track and you think you're ready but you have to adjust - the race, and the lap, is so long - it's 61 laps in these humid conditions and it's very challenging.

Q: Two victories is a great achievement considering where the team was at the start of the year, isn't it?
LH:
Absolutely. I wasn't happy with the end result of the last race in Monza, so to come here and correct things was really satisfying. Now I really hope to be able to challenge for more wins in the next three races. However, we still don't have the fastest package. We have KERS so we really ought to be much further ahead, but we have closed the gap significantly. We can still improve our aero package - but that will be for next year.

Q: We heard over the radio that you had a KERS problem - what was that?
LH:
I didn't personally have a problem, but the team came over the radio to tell me there looked to be an issue. On my steering wheel, we have all these buttons, and in the software, if we have something go faulty, we have these default switches - +10 and +1 and there's a range from about one to 80. We had a potential problem with our KERS that meant I had to disengage it and then re-engage it.
That meant that as I was driving I had to punch the +10 switch three times and the +1 switch a couple of times and then press OK. And then do it again to re-engage everything. Plus, I'm also pressing the KERS button, so there's a lot going on! The bumps also make it twice as difficult. We have a lot to think about in the car already so it's very challenging to do those things.

Q: Do you think this win has helped you to grow in maturity?
LH:
Yeah, I definitely think I've grown in maturity: when you have somebody like Sebastian Vettel behind you - who is a great driver but doesn't have quite as much experience as I do - you definitely feel a bit more comfortable in that position. Inevitably, when you have somebody on your tail, there's a certain amount of pressure, but being able to deal with that, stay focused and not be constantly looking in your mirrors and worrying about it or trying to understand where you are on strategy and where he is, that's all part of the learning experience. And I think I learnt quite a lot today. Not only did we win, but we came out of it better.

Q: And that must be a positive for next year, right?
LH:
I'm very satisfied because we could easily have had a year where we'd been at the back the whole time. For me, that wouldn't have felt great at all because I was world champion last year and I know I'm good enough to be at the front, so to go straight to the back would have difficult for a lot of people to understand and my achievements would have been under question. So I'm glad I'm back at the front now, and that people can see that the number one on my car was well earned. It's on our car for a reason.