Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Dont write Schumacher off 06 May 2010
Lewis Hamilton has had his own fair share of critics in the past, so laying into Michael Schumacher is not his style. The McLaren star knows results dont tell the whole story - he may be quicker than team mate Jenson Button, but the results this season say otherwise. Speaking to the media in Spain on Thursday, it is clear Hamilton has matured a lot in the past 18 months, to the point where a diplomatic career could beckon if he ever decides to quit racing. For now though, racing is the only thing hes concentrating on, and with a very firm eye on the competition
Q: Lewis, its a great championship this year. Different situations, different rivalries, different power shifts. How do you see this?
Lewis Hamilton: It has been a great season so far. I enjoyed it and we have had some great races. Everyone was a bit surprised after the first race which wasnt that exciting and then all of a sudden we had the most exciting races, at least that I had experienced. Its great to see so many teams being so close and so many drivers so close in terms of competitiveness. After four races, the points being so close means that the championship is alive. And the spectators must be enjoying this, as we are.
Q: Do you think the championship will in the end be decided by the rate of car development? Looking at McLaren, no one develops as well and as quickly as your team does
LH: Thats definite - we have a great group of people back in the factory that are working flat out. Even though we dont do everything perfectly, we try to, obviously. I think it is going to be down to the drivers consistency, also the teams consistency and definitely on the improvements being made on the car. We always need to push, and once you got to the top of the car it is getting more difficult to improve on that. Then its down to the smart people in the factory to pull these bits out.
Q: You have already mentioned the excitement for the drivers this season, but what about you personally?
LH: For me it has not been a perfect start into the season if you take a look at the results. But in terms of the racing, the fun and experience, it has been great. I am looking forward to many more great races, even though I would take some back markers from the front in the future.
Q: Have you been surprised by anyone particular this season so far?
LH: There has no one thats been a real surprise so far. With our direct competitors I know that they will be there. For us it was maybe more of a surprise to see how competitive we have been - maybe not the fastest, but the most consistent in terms of our cars reliability compared to others. We must fine-tune our car, and then we should hopefully be the best. There have also been some unfortunate moments this year, like the qualifying in Malaysia and the pit stop in Australia. Both of them have not been particularly good moments, but we have learned from them and they have made us stronger.
Q: In Germany Michael Schumacher has been criticised quite a lot because of his results so far. What are your thoughts on that? Are people too impatient with their criticism?
LH: I cannot say, as I have never retired and come back. To me he looks fit and working really hard. He is not Superman; he is a top athlete and a fantastic driver, but here we have great teams and great drivers. Us drivers, including Sebastian (Vettel), Fernando (Alonso) and myself, we have been driving consistently for the last couple of years and been on it, whereas he has taken a step back during that time. I dont think that anyone could have expected him to be on the same levels as us straight away. I think that he has been doing a great job, and people should just take it easy on him. I am sure he will be competing with us later this season.
Q: How was it competing with him in China, seeing the red helmet?
LH: It was fantastic and a really good experience. I always wanted to race with him and I finally got the chance to be wheel to wheel with him. And he put up a great fight; he overtook me, I overtook him. It was a wow moment, to figure out how it is racing against Michael Schumacher.
Q: You seem to be quicker than your team mate, but the results show something different for the moment. Is it worrying you?
LH: I think it is not bad luck - it is just unfortunate. At the last race I did four pit stops, and I finished only a second behind Jenson. Also the weather has been going up and down. I am really looking forward to a sunny weekend. Still, I think that Jenson is doing a fantastic job, and I will continue to push and I am sure that the results will come at some stage.
Q: With the updates that McLaren will bring to the Spanish Grand Prix, will you be able to be competitive here?
LH: There is absolutely no reason why not. It is very difficult to know how much of a step we have made. We have been at the front and we have made a step forward, hopefully a bigger step than others. And then the weather comes back in again; this is not the Spanish weather we are used to.
Q: Who do you see as the biggest championship contender, and who do you have your eye on the most?
LH: For sure my team mate Jenson, as he is leading the championship and I have to focus on him the most. But there is also Sebastian, there is Fernando and not to forget Nico (Rosberg), who is very competitive at the moment. I have to try and do a better job than them.
Q: Whats your favourite corner here on the Spanish track?
LH: Definitely Turn three. I have never had a good car in that corner, even though we had good cars back in 2007 and 2008. Already during winter testing for this season I had a great car, and was flat-out through that turn, so I am really looking forward to this years race.
Q: If it should be a wet race again, how do you see your chances for this weekend?
LH: The McLaren is quite good in the wet, and also Jenson and I are. I hope it is going to be dry though, even though the outlook says something different. We have to do the best job with the weather that comes. We hope to do a one-two again this weekend. This will be our aim.
Q: How to you feel starting the European season?
LH: I am really happy. Its great to jump on a short distance flight, and be back home in my own bed on Sunday night. Its good to be in the same time zone for a longer period of time.