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Q&A with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton 31 Aug 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 30 August 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012

The summer break has come and gone and there is no confirmed news on a contract between Lewis Hamilton and McLaren for 2013. That is neither here nor there at Spa this weekend. All that matters to Hamilton is getting the best out of an updated car around a circuit that he loves…

Q: Lewis, it was an interesting start to the weekend…
Lewis Hamilton:
Guys, you’ve seen yourself how it was today. It was incredibly wet, there was a lot of aquaplaning and a lot of rivers on the track which you had to try to avoid. There was no sense in bolting around today other than to see if your updates work on the car, so we just did a couple of installation laps. We also saw if the tyres would switch on.

Q: Did the tyres ‘switch on’ and did the updates work?
LH:
We had some difficulties in the beginning with our rear wing, which is for here and for Monza. Everybody could see that we had to make some modifications to make it work perfectly and in the end it did. But of course we will have to see tomorrow how good it really is.

Q: Isn’t it very challenging to only run for one dry session before going into qualifying - especially after a four-week break?
LH:
Of course that is a challenge, but everybody is in the same boat so it will be very interesting to see who is able to find the best set-up after only a couple of laps. I hope that our simulator will have helped us so that we are the best prepared under such conditions.

Q: It must be pretty intense to go out on such a high-speed track like Spa in these conditions?
LH:
I think people always expect us to have a racing heart but believe me we don’t. It is not so hectic as in the dry, so for the short period it was really exciting out there. I enjoyed every lap that I did today. And there was something to learn even if tomorrow and on Sunday it will very likely be dry. Spa is even sensational in these conditions when the speed is significantly slower.

Q: Nine races over 13 weeks is a tight schedule…
LH:
The second part of this season will be the most intense part, as there are a lot of back-to-back races, which puts a lot of stress on the mechanics of the team in particular. They have to strip the car down and rebuild it and then strip it back down to move it around to another location. Also we will be away from our families. In the end the best team will most likely deal the best with these facts.

Q: We have two high-speed tracks coming up. How well will the McLaren perform?
LH:
Our car has been performing quite well in high-speed corners throughout the year so far. We have rather struggled in the medium and low-speed corners. So I hope that these tracks will suit our car.

Q: Pirelli have slightly changed their tyres. Will this affect how you set up your car for this race?
LH:
Of course this will affect how long the tyres will last, and I will have to take a look at last year’s strategy again. The ambient temperature is quite low here, plus the tyres are quite hard, which makes it more difficult to switch them on. I would say it is a lottery and I can make no prediction on how this will affect our car.

Q: How do you feel the summer break has benefited the team as a whole?
LH:
I think it is great that everyone had to take a break, especially the mechanics and engineers who could revitalize and charge up their batteries. For me as a driver it is also a relief to know that everyone is having holidays and that I don’t need to feel guilty if I take a week off sometime during the season, knowing that everyone is working. Also it was not bad for us as a team to go into the summer break having won the last Grand Prix before our holidays. But then again once you are relaxing you also forget about these things and then you just switch off. I haven’t thought about Formula One for weeks and I guess this is about the same for everyone. I started my training for this season mid December 2011 and ever since then I have been flat out working to be in good shape. So once a year it is very healthy to be able to just relax.

Q: How does it feel to drive a Formula One car at this special circuit?
LH:
This circuit is massively smooth, as it is such a high-speed track and very exhilarating. This is a very flowing circuit, where you have to get up to speed very early on. You have to switch from an aggressive driving style to a rather smooth one to be able to be quick here.

Q: Last year Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing were dominant. Is it a relief for you to see that they are not that dominant again in 2012?
LH:
For me it is more positive to see that Formula One is still so competitive and that many drivers are able to win races. We say it almost every year that the current season is the most competitive so far, and it is good to see that we can say this again this year. I hope this will also be the same for the future.

Q: Michael Schumacher will celebrate his 300th race here in Spa. What do you think about this achievement?
LH:
That is an incredible achievement. I have only done 100, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to do another 200. And Michael has done this during a time when Formula One did not have as many races per season as we do have now. So it means he has been around for quite some time. Also this year he has set the time for the pole position in Monaco, which means he is still competitive. It is good to see that he still has the enthusiasm and determination to continue racing.

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