Lewis Hamilton Q&A: A hardcore racer at heart 14 Sep 2009
Barely 30 seconds from the chequered flag and McLarens Lewis Hamilton looked set for a well-deserved third place in Sundays Italian Grand Prix. Then, taking Monzas high-speed Lesmo turns for the final time, it all went wrong and the world champion put his MP4-24 into the wall. With no title at stake, Hamilton was giving it his all - as is his nature. These things happen, he explained to his official website
Q: What have you learned from the disappointment of your Monza weekend?
Lewis Hamilton: Some you win, some you lose. The race itself was pretty straightforward, I wasn't on the optimal strategy and really had to push to make the two-stopper work. I got every tenth out of the car that I could possibly get and I didn't make any mistakes - until the last lap. But you've got to take things like this in your stride. We're not challenging for a world championship so it's a little more acceptable - even though it's not acceptable - and you learn from these mistakes. My job is to push as hard as I can on every single lap and these things can just happen.
Q: How much were you pushing for that second position at the end?
LH: In general, you're always pushing. But when you get to the race, you need to be a bit below the limit in order to look after the tyres, the engine and the car. We knew that, even though I was on pole position, we didn't have the winning strategy and therefore I needed to pull out a 15-20-second gap to the one-stoppers before my first stop. So I was flat-chat. Then I remember my engineers came on the radio and told me they needed eight qualifying laps from me - so I gave them that and, even in the last stint, I was behind the two Brawns. But I truly believed I could get Jenson - I felt I might just be able to take him. And that's the way I race - I never race to give up. If we were leading the championship, or fighting for the title, it would have been a slightly different scenario and I would have put a lot more thought into just getting the points - something we've learnt in the past. But I still wanted to win - I wanted to catch them up and overtake. So I gave it my absolute all, I was fastest in that first sector on the last lap, then I got a little bit wide on the kerb and it spun me round. It was a heavy impact but these things happen.
Q: You must have been over that kerb 100 times this weekend...
LH: That's the thing - it's a very thin line between going round with no problems and then, I might have been an inch out and the car bottoms and snaps away from you. All I can really say is that I'm sincerely sorry for my team. They know me, and they know that I do absolutely everything I can to win races for them and I never give up. They know that. And they did a fantastic job this weekend. Pretty much 99 times out of 100, I'll finish the race so every now and then in my career I'm bound to make small mistakes. I don't think this one is as costly as if I'd been leading the championship. I'm upset but I'm already looking forward.
Q: So what can we expect for the final races of the season?
LH: The progress we've made this year has been fantastic. The car was good today, but I'd say it's still not quite good enough - the Brawns were just a little bit better. We've got updates coming so I think we'll be able to compete with them at some of the future races. Our upgrades for Singapore might give us a bit more of an edge so I won't have to keep pushing at 130 percent, maybe I can push at 110 percent!
Q: Is never giving up in your DNA?
LH: I'm just a racer. And I'm a more hardcore racer than most people would appreciate - if you look at the lap times you'll see what I mean!
Q: The title fight looks like it will boil down to both Brawn drivers - will that be an issue?
LH: Team mates can clearly race for the championship, as we saw in 2007. But it's going to be a hard battle - they're both doing a fantastic job and their pace was incredible this weekend. Rubens (Barrichello) has pulled some serious speed out from somewhere and they'll both be applying pressure on each other - it is open to both of them. It'll be down to who's the most consistent. Who will that be? My guess is as good as yours. They both look just as consistent as each other - their times were almost identical in the race - it just so happened Rubens was ahead. If it had been the other way round, Jenson (Button) would have won. But Jenson's doing a great job - congratulations to him for this weekend.