Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Fightback from penalty should be fun 13 Apr 2012
Receiving a five-place grid penalty when you are on a run of strong qualifying form is not great news, but McLarens Lewis Hamilton is far from crestfallen. The car is really good, the track is to his liking, and the first two races have shown that you dont have to start from pole position to win. With updates on the MP4-27 working well and Hamilton in a positive frame of mind, he should be able to shine on Sunday - despite his early Shanghai setback
Q: Lewis, how does it feel to know that you have to cope with a five-place penalty?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, of course that is not fantastic news, but we still have a quick car and if we make the right calls and run the right strategy in the race we still should be able to fight for the lead.
Q: How hopeful are you of fighting for your first win of 2012? How do you put the two third places behind you and move on?
LH: Well, we have just to keep on moving forward. Fact is that I am pretty happy that I had two podiums so far - I dont take anything for granted - and that I have a good car and am in a good position. I have been training very hard to get myself in the right frame of mind for this weekend and while I have come here with a small issue I still feel very positive about this weekend as we still have the chance to put on a good race. When I was a kid I always loved to come from the back, so as I will start the race five places back from where I qualify I will have fights with quite a few people for positions - and Im really looking forward to it.
Q: Can you say something about that small issue that you just mentioned?
LH: I have to change my gearbox on Saturday morning - so at least we start when it counts with a new gearbox. Thats it. As I just said, I still feel very positive. We came here with some upgrades, so I am pretty convinced that we will be able to fight for podium places. Last year I started here from P3 and won the race. And if you look at the last race where Fernando (Alonso) came from way back and won, I would say that anything is possible! (laughs)
Q: This track seems to work well for you - you have a good record here
LH: Yes, I like to race here. After the first year the tracks been good for me. And if I have to come with a penalty and want to end on the podium it had better be! (laughs)
Q: Knowing that you have won here twice, does that make a difference to you?
LH: No, it doesnt really. You dont carry on the boost that you get from a race win for a whole year. But we had some reasonable finishes at the first two races, so I would say that the positives are on our side - apart from that small issue that we have this weekend.
Q: If you look at the standings in the championship it seems strange that somebody who hasnt qualified better than P8 is leading. Is that what you mean when you say that anything seems possible - that the season so far is somewhat topsy-turvy?
LH: Well, I have to transform my qualifying qualities into results. After the last race we went back to the factory and sat down with the engineers and went through particularly our pit stops, where we seem not to be the best at the moment, and fixed some things that had been a problem, so that hopefully they will never be a problem again and we should be much better at our pit stops this weekend.
Q: Would anything less than a win here be satisfying for you?
LH: Well, when you start from pole position then you dont want to accept anything less than a win. But if you start further back, then anything moving forward can be accepted. But of course I want to win - that clearly is my target.
Q: How are the tyres behaving on this track?
LH: This track, thank God, is not one of these circuits thats too severe on the tyres. But then again tyres, and the right use of them, will be an issue here, just as it is an issue at all the races. Its simply part of the game. Here it is probably the left-front tyre that gets a hard time, and that is not necessarily difficult for braking, but as it is quite bumpy locking is a bit of an issue. When you lock-up at high speed the car vibrates like crazy and visibility becomes a bit of a trouble.
Q: Where do you see the trickiest parts of this track - aside from the fact that its one of these rare circuits where overtaking is possible?
LH: Clearly Turns One and Two - it looks so easy, but it is quite a tricky part: it is a very long corner that tightens up and you arrive there at full speed. Then Turn Eight to Nine: there youd better get your line right and keep your minimum speed up. Thats about it, really.
Q: We all know about the insignificance of Friday times, so how was it going, despite focusing on lap times?
LH: It worked very well - all the bits and pieces that we brought here work well, and it stayed dry. That helped a lot. We could work on our set-up. I am happy with the way the balance is - the car is getting better with every race. That will hopefully compensate for the grid penalty.
Q: Whats your guess: will McLaren still be the strongest team here?
LH: I honestly hope so! (laughs)
Q: The FIA has decided to race in Bahrain. What is your stance on that?
LH: The FIA has decided, so we race there. For me, I am focusing on this weekend and I take every race as it comes, so I trust the FIA decision.
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