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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Belgian battle will be close 26 Aug 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011

It was one of those typical Spa days: rain, rain, rain. Being able to manage such conditions defines a good driver and a competitive car, so Lewis Hamilton came away pretty satisfied with his McLaren, even if he didn’t rack up the dry mileage he would have liked. With the weather likely to remain changeable throughout the weekend, Hamilton knows there’s everything to play for…

Q: Lewis, we’re in Spa heading into the second half of the season. How do you like this track?
Lewis Hamilton:
I honestly have to say I love Spa. It’s one of those massively fast circuits - one that makes you think you’re going somewhere because we’re going through the woods. Every time when the Spa weekend approaches, I can’t wait to get on the track. Eau Rouge flat out - that’s something that you’re looking forward to every year!

Q: So how was your day today?
LH:
Well, not too bad even though not a lot was going on really. At the end of the second session we were able to do some laps in the dry, so we’ve been able to gather important data, but as you will always have changeable conditions here we have to wait and see how good this data is.

Q: You have quite a good record here. You’ve actually won twice - even if one win was taken away from you - but probably you still think of having won twice…
LH:
Yep, I do…

Q: …and do you think you can do it again?
LH:
If you look at the immediate past, Jenson (Button) and myself have been very good in the last few races and the team is improving constantly, so I really feel that we can be very competitive this weekend. It will be interesting to see what others bring this weekend - and if it works - but as I just said, as a team I feel pretty confident here. It would be super having gone into the summer break with a good feeling and coming out with the same.

Q: If the championship were starting now, what’s your guess for who would win?
LH:
Do you see a crystal ball anywhere around here? We had no clue who is going to win the title after 11 races, so how could anybody possibly know after no races in the second half? Sure, you have some indications: Ferrari is competitive, Red Bull is still very strong and consistent, and then you’ve got us who have been leading the way in the last couple of races.

Q: Spa; Monza is next; and then Singapore - all races that should be on your radar for a victories…
LH:
Yes, that’s the plan. Okay, you probably come to every race with the feeling that you can do it, but given the last three races the chances are really good. We are definitely there and have a good shot and my prediction for this weekend is that it will be a very close battle.

Q: Have you played any mind games about what you have to do, what Jenson needs to do and what Fernando (Alonso) needs to do to beat Sebastian Vettel?
LH:
I haven’t wasted any time on such mind games. I will take it one race at a time and see how it goes. You have one good race here and then the next one will be less fantastic, so you have some sort of mixed calculation where what you do can also be influenced by factors outside your reach. We are working on giving as much positive energy to each and every team member - including myself - to make the right decisions.

Q: Eight races to go - is that enough to catch Vettel?
LH:
Well, I think that it is possible to catch him, but it will be very demanding and that’s a task that the whole team has to take up because the driver can do nothing on his own. Eight races is a good number and I head into the second half of the season pretty confident.

Q: Looking at the standings, do you feel like you can’t afford any mistakes?
LH:
Believe me, I had that realization a long time ago! (laughs) And that’s why I am kind of relaxed. Sure, we will have some ups and downs at the races to come and we have to keep a close grip to make sure that the downs stay within a reasonable range.

Q: When you say you’re relaxed, how relaxed has your summer break been and was the break enough to recharge your batteries?
LH:
I had the best summer ever. It was good fun, relaxing - and it was away from the media. No media attention at all - that was wonderful and very private.

Q: This weekend marks Michael Schumacher’s 20th anniversary in Formula One. Can you remember when you realized that there is a guy by the name of Schumacher racing in F1?
LH:
I think it was in 1991. I was around six or seven years old, but I think I really got interested in him when he started to wear the yellow overalls and then I followed his career carefully. I had only started to race go-karts and F1 seemed to me miles and miles away. Now I am here racing against him- that shows how old he is! (laughs)

Q: What’s your guess on how long you will last? Also 20 years?
LH:
No, I am not planning to be here for 20 years, but I can definitely see myself doing another ten. I am not going for that record of his - I want to go for his other records!

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