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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: McLaren race pace looks good 26 Oct 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 26 October 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 26 October 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 26 October 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 26 October 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 26 October 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 26 October 2012

While Ross Brawn, Lewis Hamilton’s master for 2013, is looking forward to an exciting season with his new driver next year, the 2012 Lewis Hamilton is looking to get his game together for his final four races with McLaren. The Red Bulls and Ferraris may well be quicker, but Hamilton is never one to give up on a title while it's still mathematically possible…

Q: Lewis, with two practice sessions under your belt what are your impressions?
Lewis Hamilton:
A quite positive day on my side. Not quite quick enough, but I had a good long run so I would say that our race pace should be competitive. For qualifying my guess is that we are not quick enough yet.

Q: We have seen a lot of spins today - will that be an issue for the race?
LH:
I haven’t done one!

Q: But many of your competitors…
LH:
But that’s not my problem! (laughs)

Q: So what are your issues?
LH:
We are struggling a bit with the car - or let’s say we are not struggling as the car felt quite good, but to get the best out of the tyres is not that easy. The Red Bulls are just too quick - and also the Ferraris are quick - so I think that we are kind of third or fourth at the moment. But to really beat the Red Bulls at the moment we need some changes on the downforce. My idea is that if we can keep the pace from the long run we should be okay. I think that qualifying will be important, so we really have to work on that. For the race I would predict that a one-stop strategy could be the flavour of Sunday afternoon.

Q: Now that some time has passed since you announced you will join Mercedes next year - and your current team have had some time to get used to the idea - what is their reaction?
LH:
They have been fine, as also I had such a long relationship with them. It is like a friendship, where I have decided to go another way and they support me in my decision. After 15 years with McLaren, and now six years with the F1 team, it has been an amazing time. I still have the big farewell visit to the factory ahead of me, which will come at the end of the season as we still have some work to do here. Of course taking over Michael’s [Schumacher] cockpit means that I have to fill very big shoes. To me it is an honour to take over the car that he once raced in, and be able to work with the team that he worked with.

Q: You are 62 points behind the championship leader. What are your chances of catching up or even winning this year’s title?
LH:
It seems that this will be quite tough, but also I think that nothing is impossible. Our car should work better here in the race than at the last races, where we - on top - had bad luck. In general I am not a person who gives up on things that are theoretically still possible, but realistically it will be very difficult, especially considering that there are other strong competitors that also want to do the very same.

Q: What is your outlook for this weekend then?
LH:
I try not only to have as much fun racing here, but also give 100 percent to try and win this race - as hard as this may be and as difficult as it might sound. And if not winning, then to collect as many points as possible. Jenson [Button] and I, even if we should not manage to win any drivers’ championship we would do anything to bring the constructors’ championship back home for McLaren.

Q: Several times this year you have mentioned that Fernando Alonso should be the one winning this championship, but now Red Bull Racing seem to have the stronger car. What is your opinion on that?
LH:
That is right. Sebastian [Vettel] would be my guess for winning this year’s championship. Year by year Red Bull Racing gives their drivers an incredible car. This year they might have struggled a bit in qualifying, but their race car was strong all year long. They have taken another step, and I don’t think that anyone else can keep up with them at the moment.

Q: What strategy do you have in place in terms of updating the car to maximize the chances of closing the gap to the leaders?
LH:
Well, we do bring small updates to every race, or at least modifications that we will be testing on the Fridays to see if they work. The guys at the factory are still working flat out to get better chances to at least be able to fight for the constructors’ championship. As a team we win and lose together, so it is important to not give up until the last minute.

Q: What are your feelings about coming back here for the second race in India?
LH:
In total this is now my seventh time coming here, and I love it. Apart from my home country, I think that I have always had a warmer welcome here than anywhere else. Also when I was young we always had Indian takeaway food to watch the races on television, so I pretty much grew up with it and I love it a lot.

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