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Q&A with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton 14 Apr 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 14 April 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 leads Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 10 April 2011 Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 battle for position at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 10 April 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 14 April 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 10 April 2011

Tyre troubles, Renault’s Nick Heidfeld and a post-race 20-second penalty added up to a pretty miserable Malaysian Grand Prix for McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. But with just a week between the Sepang event and this weekend’s Chinese race, Hamilton has already shaken off any feelings of disappointment and is now fully focused on making amends in Shanghai…

Q: Lewis, what was your reaction to the 20-second penalty you received in Malaysia?
Lewis Hamilton:
There was not much to say. Twenty seconds was not too bad. I lost one place but I was already so far back that it didn’t make a huge difference to me. I think I lost two points. Of course two points could be a deciding factor at the end of the year, but I hope I can make them up as well.

Q: Were you aware you were over-defending your position?
LH:
No, I don’t think that I was over-defending my position. I am a racer and people want to see racing. I would not put myself or anyone else in danger in a million years. I think that I’ve always raced with my heart and made pretty smart decisions when it comes to racing and defending. When you are defending you have to make your car as wide as possible. The rules says that you’re not allowed to make more than one manoeuvre to defend. So I don’t see why they said that I was defending too much because on the straight he (Fernando Alonso) was 10 or 15 metres behind me. I was not defending at that stage. But it is how you interpret the rules and you can’t do anything about it. I appreciate all the support that I’ve had from my fans. They all know that I will never give up and will always keep on pushing.

Q: Did you mull over the penalty for long?
LH:
You leave the track and you think about it for a while, but then you put it behind you. You get on the plane and probably still think about the different scenarios but then you fall asleep, and you wake up and it’s over. You get on with your race preparation and training. When you have your head completely clear again, you move forward. I want to win. I love these back-to-back races when you didn’t have such a good first one, as you immediately have the chance to make a change within a week. I definitely want to make a change.

Q: It must have been pretty satisfying to see that you could match Sebastian Vettel…
LH:
I was on form the whole race and yes it was satisfying to see that, especially in the first and second stints where the pace was okay. If I hadn’t been stuck behind (Nick) Heidfeld I would have been able to keep very close behind Sebastian.

Q: Do you think you will be close to the Red Bull’s pace this weekend?
LH:
There is no reason why not. At the last race, lots of positive aspects contributed to the pace of our car. When it is so hot you normally have to open the cooling and the radiators, which reduces the downforce, but we didn’t have to do it. Maybe Red Bull had to do it, so maybe they lost a bit of speed. But here in China it is cooler so they should be on top form this weekend, but we have some upgrades that will hopefully work.

Q: Will KERS and the DRS (Drag Reduction System) be more effective in China than they were in Malaysia?
LH:
They are very effective in terms of pace and we have a long straight, so my guess is that they will be more effective here for overtaking. I think that we will see more overtaking here.

Q: What about the tyres? Will they be as much of an issue as they were last weekend?
LH:
I think they will be less of an issue. When the tyres start to degrade you have to take a close look at the temperature and it was so hot last week that there was no way to keep them cool. But here it is substantially cooler, even though there’s a long straight that once again puts a lot wear on the tyres. My guess is that we are probably down to two stops here.

Q: Could McLaren be closer to Red Bull this weekend? Could you challenge for victory?
LH:
We are knocking at their door, that’s for sure. But I think from race to race it will be different. They are improving and so are we. We were closer at the last race as they took a step back, whilst we didn’t improve. This weekend it is cooler, so I think it will be how it was at the first race. I hope not. Overall I think we are right there in the chase, even though I still think that they have a slight advantage. I hope that we will find something this weekend that will enable us to fight for pole position and then compete for a win!

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