Q&A with McLarens Lewis Hamilton 10 Sep 2010
Lewis Hamilton is on a roll after his excellent victory at Spa a fortnight ago. McLaren are expected to go well at Monza too and Hamilton, eager to win at the classic venue in an F1 car for the first time, is not about to disagree - even if Fridays practice times might suggest Red Bull and Ferrari are going to push them all the way. With the MP4-25 seemingly quick with or without F-duct, Hamilton remains confident the team have plenty of available options
Q: Lewis, how does it feel to drive on that famous Monza track this season?
Lewis Hamilton: It is so fast. It really takes a moment to adjust. As you just said, it is a very famous track. The fans love it to come here when you drive through this wonderful park and then suddenly you have one of the fastest tracks in the world before your very eyes - that is always quite an experience. It is one of the top races of the calendar and I am happy to be here.
Q: You come here on the back of your Spa victory two weeks ago. What do you think you can achieve here?
LH: Well, Spa and Monza are two amongst the four or five greatest circuits in the world - and it is one that I havent won so the desire to add this track to my tally is definitely there and I am working as hard as I can to win here.
Q: The two Red Bull drivers see you as the favourite to win here. Why are you so quick on these kinds of circuits?
LH: Ah, because maybe everyone else is slow! But lets see what develops and lets see how we do in qualifying. Ive said this so many times before: Fridays times give almost no indication of the actual times. It is a day of trying to get the car right.
Q: You were running the F-duct in the morning but not in the afternoon.
What works better?
LH: Actually it felt very similar. One version is quicker in the corners and one quicker on the straights so we will have to sort out what is better on high fuel and if there is one option that has more potential than the other. We have to look at the data and will decide tonight what we will do tomorrow. I think overall we are where we expected to be, even though there was a bit of a gap in the afternoon.
Q: But why is it that this year everybody seems to agree that McLaren is written all over this track?
LH: Ah, I always thought that Ferrari is written all over here (smiles). But true, our fan base is picking up. My feeling tells me that it is something in the range of 70 to 30 percent when it comes to the attire of the fans, so red is still the prevailing colour.
Q: You have won the F1 drivers championship already, while Mark Webber has loads of experience. How do you rate these two different advantages?
LH: Most of the drivers on the F1 grid have at one stage of their career won a championship, so I would say that it is not much difference if it is the F1 championship, or European or British championship. When you win a championship the effort to get the title is very similar, so we have all experienced that.
Q: Would you say that this race on Sunday could effectively decide the title? Fernando Alonso indicated something in this direction
LH: No, I dont think that this goes for us. In reality there are still 150 points waiting to be allocated and that is only 32 points shy of what I have in the lead. So there is still everything open. It is still a long way to go and you have seen in the course of the season how things go up and down. I hope weve put the downs behind us and can concentrate on the ups from now on.
Q: Does being in the lead of the championship mean that you will change your approach at the six remaining races?
LH: No, why should I? You have to give your all at every moment of a race - and thats what I will do.
Q: There have been questions asked regarding whether Sebastian Vettel is mature enough to win the title. What is you opinion?
LH: You can see without a doubt that he is extremely talented, he sits in a great car, is with a great team and I think that he has a good approach. He has clocked many pole positions so far and the difficult bit seems to turn those poles into wins. But that goes for everyone. Generally, when hes on form he is fantastic. Sure, he had some troublesome races, but we all do once in a while and you always learn from these experiences. He is still so young and for sure he still has much to learn.
Q: It seems that he is going through the same progression that you went through back in 2007 when you made some mistakes and the same questions were being asked about you. How do you deal with people saying that youre not mature enough to be a world champion? Does that play on your mind?
LH: I guess not. I cannot remember how I felt in 2007. I can just say that I expected to make mistakes. But hey, I was fighting for the world championship and I felt great. I would have never dreamed of being in such a situation in my first year in Formula One. I think it is completely different when its your first year than being here for a couple of years. Sure, you question yourself all the time and try to improve your very self as everything that youre doing is commented on. But that is the name of the game.
Q: Would you agree with the freeing up of team orders?
LH: No, I like it just the way it is. The reason is that I would not want to be in that position. I am here to race and I have worked hard to get here. Of course you are always racing for the team but then you also want to win out of your own right - because you deserve to - and to have that denied by team orders would go against everything in my heart. So no, I would not agree.
Q: There have been rumours that in 2013 Formula One might move to turbo engines and ground effect. You are a GP2 champion, a series that used to run on ground effect. Whats your opinion on that?
LH: It is still very early stages to talk about that. I only can say that the changes will be done for the good of the sport, should they happen. I have only once driven a car with turbo engine - an old Ayrton Senna car - and that felt very good.
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