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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Red Bull will be hard to hold on to 06 May 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Turkish Grand Prix, Preparations, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Thursday, 5 May 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 6 May 2011 Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren on the podium. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 17 April 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 17 April 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 6 May 2011

Mark Webber may have stolen the show with his overtaking marathon at the last round in China, but it was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who walked away with the precious 25 points. And even if the Brit is convinced that Red Bull again have the advantage of the fastest car here in Turkey - something that’s hard to ascertain after Friday’s running - it’s a race that could well see another surprise winner. And Hamilton is surely among the candidates…

Q: Lewis, you won here last year. Do you think you can do it again this weekend?
Lewis Hamilton:
I don’t know. What I can say is that the conditions are very difficult. Yesterday I was wearing two team jumpers, a t-shirt, a vest and a jacket and was still freezing - and today it isn’t any better. The track was almost impossible to drive in the morning session and I didn’t manage to get one single lap time. I have never seen such conditions before here in Istanbul. It used to be warm and sunny! So much will depend on the track conditions and the tyres. Thank God the forecast predicts better weather for Saturday and Sunday so we can go back to circumstances that we know. Last year we have been behind Red Bull and happened to finish ahead of them because they crashed out. I think we are in a somewhat similar condition. Perhaps they are a bit faster again and definitely will not do us the favour of another crash, so my prediction is that it will be hard to hold on to them in the race.

Q: Catching the Red Bulls seems to be this year’s job for you. Do you think you already have - after your strong performance in China?
No, I don’t think that we have. We have been able to close the gap in China because we were on a different strategy, but in terms of pure pace they are still quite a bit ahead of us. I think they have at least a comfortable half a second on us. The guys in the factory are working extremely hard to close that gap, but that is not easy. My guess is that Red Bull had a much smoother journey from the end of 2009 as their car has been an evolution and they just had to get constantly better with the same car, whereas we started with a new car last year with the rules change - and the rules changed again this year so they are a bit ahead. It is not impossible to catch them over the season because they are not invincible, as we have shown at the last race.

Q: It turned out that making a good start is one of the key elements to a good finish. How important would you say the start is?
It is the coolest part of the race. When you do your out-lap before the start you try to get the feeling for the car on heavy fuel because you don’t have that from qualifying. When you sit on the grid you get a checklist from your engineer via team radio and when that is all done I always have the feeling that my heart rate drops and it becomes very quiet. You know that now the last cars at the end of the grid are taking their positions, and then you see the red lights one by one, and then off you go. It is vital to have a good start because as soon as you start to lose position it is very difficult to defend. I’ve been racing since I was eight years old but I have never been able to say beforehand that I am going to the inside or the outside at the start because it is always different. All the races in my whole life - probably a thousand races - it was always different.

Q: You have been on a high since the China race, yet now you are full of praise for the Red Bulls, almost accepting defeat before the race even starts…
Accepting defeat? Me? I never accept defeat! But knowing where we are and knowing where we happened to be until now, I would say of course it is not impossible to beat them - they can have a tyre failure, they can be caught on the wrong strategy - but pace-wise I feel that we still have not closed the gap. I know that because I know what is going on in my team and I know that others are bringing an upgrade here this weekend and if we haven’t been able to close the gap already before this race then it would be very optimistic to believe that we are outperforming them on pace now.

Q: That sounds pretty detached - and realistic…
Yes, that is what I am, because if I were blurting that we’re going to win this weekend, that I will get my second win here and then get into the car when I don’t have the car to do that, that would be unwise - and unrealistic. It is better to talk things down and should it turn out to be better then we have smooth sailing.

Q: After today’s running what is your impression?
Well, in the morning session it looked pretty grim, but in the afternoon it went quite well - and the tyres did better than I had expected. They behaved pretty much the same as the last race whereas I guessed that here it would be a lot worse. The long run today was one of the best I’ve ever had, so overall the afternoon was promising. I had a bit of a problem with the set-up, but we will change that for tomorrow so it should be fine.

Q: Will we see a race similar to Shanghai?
That’s my guess, yes. With two or three stops - not more.

Q: After all your praise for the Red Bulls are you surprised that they are nowhere today?
No, don’t forget this is Friday. Tomorrow you will see their true pace for sure.

Q: After China Mark Webber said that it is more fun racing now because of more chances to overtake. What’s your view?
Well, that’s easy for him to say - he’s got the fastest car. But I am sure that the closer he came to the front, the more difficult it was getting for him also. But yes, it is true, racing became much more interesting. We had one pit stop last year, but now again strategy plays a big role. You pit and then, of course, you fall out of position and have to regain it again. The last race was one of the most exciting races I have competed in. I am sure the fans enjoyed it as well.

Q: Would you miss Turkey should it drop off the calendar?
I don’t like to look so far into the future and think that we will not have a Grand Prix here again. We are here now and we hopefully will be able to put on a great show - and keep the race.

Q: You started your movie career recently with a cameo in Cars 2. How did you like it? Could that be the beginning of a whole new vocation?
Yes, it was very cool. I really enjoyed it, even though it was only a very small part, playing myself. But obviously the studio liked what I did so they rang me up again asking if I could also speak my part in Spanish, Italian and German - and I did. They got me teachers for each of the languages to make sure that I pronounced everything correctly and it was really fun. I hope this is the start of something really cool in the future.

Q: So you fancy acting?
I do, definitely.

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