Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Ive never enjoyed an F1 car this much 08 Apr 2010
Lewis Hamilton has experienced mixed fortunes in the opening rounds of 2010 - a podium in Bahrain followed by frustration in Australia, where he watched new team mate Jenson Button secure McLarens first win of the season. Then came an epic drive in Malaysia, but one that yielded only sixth place, thanks to his P20 grid slot. He may not be leading the standings, but one things for sure - the 2008 champion is really enjoying himself, as he explained to his official website
Q: We've completed three of the four opening flyaway races. You're back in Europe preparing for China, how do you evaluate your opening attack on the 2010 world championship?
Lewis Hamilton: I'm very pleased. I think I'm driving as well as I ever have - I love driving this year's car: I said to my engineers in Malaysia that I'd never had a car that felt as solid and as planted as the MP4-25, it feels like a car that you can not only find a perfect balance with, but you can also really push it, and it reacts well to the changes on full-tanks or when it's empty. And that's meant I've really been able to push to the limit, which is how I love to drive.
I don't think I've ever enjoyed driving a Formula One car more than I have with this year's car. Of course, it hasn't been perfect - but then nothing is - but I feel extremely confident for the races ahead.
Q: Despite some uneven results, the drivers' championship is very finely poised though, isn't it?
LH: Yes, it is - which is perhaps surprising given the new points system. But I think the championship order is something that is quite encouraging for us, particularly given the situation we were in last year. I think all the team have perhaps missed some good opportunities - but that's one of those things that can happen when the front of the grid is very close and you're all pushing to gain the maximum advantage.
I came away from the first three races this year knowing that very little was lost and that everything is still to play for. Given where we were last year, that's a major positive for us. Could we have scored more points? Almost certainly, but we were reliable when it mattered, and we've shown we have the pace to fight at the front. And that's what I take home from the opening flyaways.
Q: The team made a big step forward in Malaysia, bringing a reported three-tenths to the car. How important is it to keep improving the car at every opportunity?
LH: We saw in Sepang that the car was extremely quick, even if we couldn't do enough in qualifying to get ourselves up the front. In fact, I think our car's always been quick this season, we just didn't get the job done properly in qualifying in Bahrain, but we've actually been quick in all the races.
But yeah, we made a step forward in Malaysia - we actually brought forward the new parts we'd planned for China. We've got a few more new parts for China, nothing major, but it should hopefully help us close the gap.
This is something that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is fantastic at doing. Last year, we did an absolutely incredible job to claw back three seconds to the frontrunners, and turn a car that was at the back of the grid at the start of the season into a race-winning car by the middle of the year. I honestly don't think there's a better team for developing a car during the season.
Q: How do you test new parts when you can't get to the track between races?
LH: Obviously, we can't test as much now, but we run a very disciplined programme on the Friday of each race to make sure the new parts are delivering the level of performance we anticipated.
I think we learned a lot of lessons about how to work in the field when we were battling back in 2009, and I'm very confident that we'll be able to do the same thing this year. As I've always said, the outcome of the world championship could be decided by the speed of development among the top teams - and I know that our team do an absolutely fantastic job in this department. And that's down to all the men and women at the factory - they're people you never see on the TV, but they are so motivated, and so committed, and they do a fantastic job, and I hope they can see that Jenson and I push for every last hundredth when we're out on track to show everyone that their work does make a difference.