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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: No testing will add to Monza challenge 03 Sep 2009

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 27 August 2009 The damaged cars of Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR4; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24 and Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001 battles with Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 29 August 2009

McLaren’s 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 - it’s quite unusual for you to end up watching a grand prix rather than racing in it, isn’t 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 can’t 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 couldn’t 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 hadn’t had the best of starts and I’d lost a few places, but I was pretty confident that we’d 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?
We know we’ve taken huge steps with the car since the start of the summer, but it’s frustrating that we didn’t get to see our race pace at Spa on Sunday. But we’ve got a low-downforce package for Monza and some more upgrades ahead of Singapore, so I think we’ll be in the hunt among the frontrunners. The most important thing is that we keep learning from this year’s car so we can make next year’s into a winner.

Q: What are you up to before Monza?
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 didn’t walk away until every single person who wanted an autograph had one! Then I’m visiting Brands Hatch on Sunday for the DTM race as a guest of Mercedes-Benz. It’s a great day - I went there last year and was really amazed by how many people were there. Later this month, I’ll also be going to the Frankfurt Motor Show, again as a guest of Mercedes-Benz, so it’s a pretty busy month.

Q: Monza is the last European race of the season - are you looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix?
I think Monza is going to be quite a bit different from in the past because we’re 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, we’ll 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?
I think all the drivers love Monza - it’s 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 sport’s history because you’ve seen photographs and old TV footage of those circuits from all those years ago.

Q: You’re 45 points behind the championship leader with 50 points remaining on the board. While it’s still theoretically possible, are you frustrated not to be in the hunt for the world title this year?
I know I’ve been very lucky: for the past two seasons, I’ve 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 it’s 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 we’ll be in the flyaways. The five remaining races are a great mix of circuits and I’m looking forward to all of them. But I’ll still be going for it, trying to get every single point I can. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not going to put the title out of my mind until I know that it’s mathematically impossible.