Lewis Hamilton Q&A: No testing will add to Monza challenge 03 Sep 2009
McLarens Lewis Hamilton experienced his first DNF of the year last Sunday - through no fault of his own - after getting caught up in the opening-lap melee at the Belgian Grand Prix. But despite his annoyance at missing out on racing at the legendary Spa circuit, Hamilton is now focused on the forthcoming Italian race at the equally illustrious Monza. However, without the usual pre-event test at the track, the reigning champion says this year it could well be a case of expect the unexpected, as he explained to his official website
Q: Your race at Spa was pretty short lived - its quite unusual for you to end up watching a grand prix rather than racing in it, isnt it?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, it was a really odd feeling to be stood at the side of the track watching the others come through behind the Safety Car. To be honest, I cant even remember the last time I failed to finish a race - the reliability of our car has been so phenomenal that it rarely happens - so it was definitely a feeling I couldnt really get used to. It was a pity though, because I love racing at Spa and I was really looking forward to a strong, attacking afternoon. I hadnt had the best of starts and Id lost a few places, but I was pretty confident that wed have the car beneath us to help us get back into the points.
Q: How confident are you about the pace of the MP4-24 ahead of the final cluster of races?
LH: We know weve taken huge steps with the car since the start of the summer, but its frustrating that we didnt get to see our race pace at Spa on Sunday. But weve got a low-downforce package for Monza and some more upgrades ahead of Singapore, so I think well be in the hunt among the frontrunners. The most important thing is that we keep learning from this years car so we can make next years into a winner.
Q: What are you up to before Monza?
LH: Back to the factory to debrief from Spa and prepare for Monza before some marketing commitments at Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands for their Young Driver Academy. It was the grand final. I was there to do a demonstration run and I also signed a lot of autographs - actually, I think I spent about two hours signing autographs! I wanted to make sure I didnt walk away until every single person who wanted an autograph had one! Then Im visiting Brands Hatch on Sunday for the DTM race as a guest of Mercedes-Benz. Its a great day - I went there last year and was really amazed by how many people were there. Later this month, Ill also be going to the Frankfurt Motor Show, again as a guest of Mercedes-Benz, so its a pretty busy month.
Q: Monza is the last European race of the season - are you looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix?
LH: I think Monza is going to be quite a bit different from in the past because were not testing there before the race. In previous years, there was always a big test at Monza before the race and that allowed you to get the balance right and, as a driver, to get yourself prepared for the high speeds of the track. Now, well be arriving cold on Friday morning and it will take a bit of work for everyone to get their cars working properly and just to get used to the lack of downforce that you need to run at Monza. That could have a very interesting effect on the order, particularly if the weather affects running, like it did last year.
Q: What makes Monza special?
LH: I think all the drivers love Monza - its one of the most historic and famous circuits on the calendar, like Spa, Monaco and Silverstone. Winning any of those big four races is a special achievement because, as a driver, you really feel a part of the sports history because youve seen photographs and old TV footage of those circuits from all those years ago.
Q: Youre 45 points behind the championship leader with 50 points remaining on the board. While its still theoretically possible, are you frustrated not to be in the hunt for the world title this year?
LH: I know Ive been very lucky: for the past two seasons, Ive been in with a shot at the championship right until the end of the last race of the season, so, obviously, this year feels a bit different. But its been fun to just push like crazy and try and get the maximum result from the car at each race, rather than looking at stringing together a more consistent title bid. It means we can keep attacking everywhere, and I think that the last five races should be good for us for a lot of different reasons. I might have missed out at Spa, but I really want to win Monza and see how competitive well be in the flyaways. The five remaining races are a great mix of circuits and Im looking forward to all of them. But Ill still be going for it, trying to get every single point I can. I know it sounds crazy, but Im not going to put the title out of my mind until I know that its mathematically impossible.