Hamilton: Podiums without upgrades is encouraging 01 Jul 2010
McLarens Lewis Hamilton may try to play it down, but his second-place finish at the European Grand Prix was unexpected. The British team had arrived in Valencia worried about the pace of rivals who had upgraded their cars in advance of their own. However, a strong qualifying lap, a great start and the MP4-25s consistent race pace saw the British driver overcome accident damage, safety-car dramas and his subsequent penalty to add 18 points to his championship tally. It was, as he explained to his official website, an interesting weekend all round
Q: There's been enough talk about your penalty, and the stewards' decisions, so let's talk about the race itself - was it a good one for you?
Lewis Hamilton: It was. It was another good race. Another enjoyable, hard-charging afternoon, where I really had to push throughout the entire race. And even if I didn't manage the same results as I'd had in Turkey and Canada, it was good to finish second, particularly as the penalty meant I didn't really have an opportunity to take the fight to Sebastian (Vettel). Obviously you can't change something once it's done, but I think we could have had a pretty good scrap at the front. I think I could have pushed him. Okay, passing around here is a different matter, but I'd like to think I might have been able to pressure him either to make a mistake, or perhaps to put his car under too much mechanical strain. But it wasn't to be. I came away from Valencia still in the lead of the championship, having extended my lead, and I'm now looking forward to Silverstone, where we'll hopefully have some of the new parts on our car that some of the other teams enjoyed last weekend.
Q: Were you quite surprised by your result in Valencia? After all, a number of other teams looked very competitive, particularly at the start of the weekend
LH: We weren't surprised by the pace of the others. Quite a few teams seem to have made a couple of significant steps, so we knew they were going to be right up with us in Spain. On Friday, it looked a bit worrying for us - our car was as fast as ever, it's just that there were suddenly a lot of cars who were faster than us! The key to the weekend, I think, was my first lap in Q3. I absolutely nailed it. And even though I wasn't able to go and better it on my last run, that time was good enough for third on the grid, which I was thrilled with as I thought I was going to slide down the order. So that set us up for a strong weekend. I managed to get Mark (Webber) at the start, which I'd sort of expected, because the inside line is the better place to start around here. And I was looking for a way past Sebastian before we touched and I lost a footplate off the front wing, which affected the car's balance during the first stint. Still, to come away from this race, which in many ways was a bit of a damage limitation exercise for us, with a second and third place is extremely encouraging.
Q: And you're off to Goodwood this weekend - what will you be driving up the hill?
LH: This year, I'm driving my championship car - the MP4-23 - which will bring back some fantastic memories. It's a beautiful car. Full aero kit. Grooved tyres. Lots and lots of grip. I can't wait. And I'll also be driving Alain Prost's '86 car - I drove it briefly last year at a TAG Heuer event at MTC (McLaren Technology Centre) in November, but it was so cold and the drive was so short that I'll only really be experiencing it properly for the first time this weekend, so that should be cool. Goodwood is the perfect place to get to meet all the fans who are always there supporting me and cheering me on. When you're working, it's sometimes hard to be able to stop and talk to people about their passion and about the season, but that's what Goodwood's really all about for me - getting close to the fans and making sure they know I appreciate them and that I never take them for granted; their support always means so much to me and, even if it's just for one weekend a year, this my opportunity to say thank you personally.