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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Race wins the focus 23 Sep 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 23 September 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 23 September 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 23 September 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 23 September 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 23 September 2011

Five champions on the grid, and four of them will go away empty handed this season, perhaps even this weekend if a certain young German has his way. One of the four almost certain to lose out is McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. But that doesn’t have to mean no more titles for the youthful Brit - and nor does it have to mean no victory for him in Singapore this weekend…

Q: Lewis, you are a big fan of street circuits. Are you under pressure to perform?
Lewis Hamilton:
No pressure at all. I feel fantastic and I am massively motivated this weekend. I feel fresh and I feel that we will be very competitive here.

Q: Tell us how it feels to race here in Singapore? Does it feel the same as when you first raced here?
LH:
Oh yes. It is a fantastic spectacle - and always will be. When I look out my hotel window and see how great the buildings are I think it is really one of the most beautiful cities we go to. When we are in the car and pass by all these incredible buildings it is quite a sensation. I have heard that around 400,000 people come to this race, which is great for the country and for Formula One.

Q: There must be a unique atmosphere…
LH:
There definitely is. Hey, it’s the only night race, which makes a tremendous difference. I am staying on European time and this year it is working better for me than in the past. The track itself is massively demanding - it’s the longest track that we have - so you better be in good shape here.

Q: Do you expect a good fight here?
LH:
It’s again the eternal truth that Friday doesn’t tell you anything and times mean nothing. My guess is that we will be competitive here. We’ve brought some new bits and pieces so I am pretty optimistic. FP1 was pretty accurate even if I only did ten laps and FP2 went okay. I think that we have a pretty good idea of how to improve the car for qualifying. My guess is that the tyres will play a big role in the race as the chances of overheating are significant, so reading your tyres well will be paramount for everybody eyeing a place on the podium.

Q: So you are in a punchy frame of mind. You seemed quite downbeat in Monza…
LH:
I wasn’t downbeat - and of course I wanted to finish - but I didn’t go ‘balls out’, basically. I didn’t take too many risks. Even taking the slightest risk would have seen me in the barrier as he (Michael Schumacher) wouldn’t have let me pass. So I made sure to stay sensible and finish the race. It was all about finishing the race and walking away with some dignity. (laughs)

Q: So are you ready to take risks here?
LH:
No, no, I didn’t say that. I will do exactly the same but hopefully in a better position. I really don’t want to come out behind Michael again after the pit stop…

Q: There will be some changes within the team with Sam Michael joining. What do you expect from that change?
LH:
I don’t know Sam at all. Occasionally when I walk down the pit lane we both stop and have a little chat but that’s about it. I will welcome him to the team and we will get to know each other better soon. Then I will be able to say something about my expectations.

Q: So how did it feel to drive under the lights?
LH:
To be honest you don’t feel much of a difference because the lighting that they have here is very good. Of course you notice that it is not the same as sunlight, but what you feel is that the lap is very consistent, so in a way it also makes it comfortable to drive here.

Q: This weekend could see the championship claimed…
LH:
To be honest I don’t think too much about the championship. Sebastian (Vettel) has finished all the races this season and aside from one fourth place finish he’s finished in either P1 or P2, so the likelihood that he will finish the remaining races is very high. And even if he doesn’t it wouldn’t make much difference, so I am not focusing on Sebastian any more. I am focusing on doing the best for the team, as now it is important how we finish our season. We will push to improve the car and, of course, improve our results. As an individual I want to finish all the races in a good position and take the momentum to next year.

Q: How do you stay motivated, even though your title chances are almost gone?
LH:
That’s not correct - the chance of the title is not completely gone. Theoretically it is still possible, but as I just said I am not focusing on the title but rather focusing on winning a few more races. I know that we are competitive and we will do everything to demonstrate it this weekend.

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