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Exclusive Q&A with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton 09 Feb 2013

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One Testing, Preparations, Jerez, Jerez, Spain, 4 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 8 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 5 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday, 6 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Mercedes AMG F1 W04 Launch, Jerez, Spain, Monday, 4 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 8 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday, 6 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 returns to the garage after crashing.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday, 6 February 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 8 February 2013

This week’s first two days of pre-season testing proved highly frustrating for Mercedes, with technical problems restricting Nico Rosberg and new team mate Lewis Hamilton to just a handful of laps. Both men made up for it over the final two days, however, and Hamilton came away from Jerez in a positive frame of mind for the next test in Barcelona…

Q: Lewis, after two nights’ sleep and a pretty productive second test day, have you put Wednesday’s crash behind you?
Lewis Hamilton:
Ah, that Wednesday experience was nothing special. It was a tough day - but indeed nothing special.

Q: It was quite an impact. Is that so easy to put behind you?
LH:
It was - and I definitely felt it. But I’ve had plenty of crashes in my racing career, so that was just another one to the list.

Q: You said that you’ve bruised your leg, but it’s nothing serious?
LH:
No, not at all. I was already training the next day.

Q: So, far no panic attacks or sleepless nights so far over your decision to join Mercedes?
LH:
No, no. I don’t live my life with regrets. When I make a decision that I’ve had time to think about, generally I never have to think about it again. When you make decisions on a whim you might regret it - but I don’t do that. My sleep is fantastic!

Q: Fleeing the nest was said to be the prime reason for your switching team. Is Mercedes a place where you will be able to build your own nest?
LH:
Yes, I think so. So far I am loving it here. The team is great. Everybody is so welcoming and it feels fantastic to work with a new group of people. I honestly feel that this could be a place for me to grow something new.

Q: Were you surprised that so many people felt obliged to take such a deep interest in your career, expressing their suspicions that you might have jumped to the wrong ship?
LH:
No, that didn’t surprise me. That’s how people are. Whenever there is something coming up some people feel the right to make their comments. That doesn’t really bother me.

Q: You said that at Mercedes you’re in for a marathon and not a sprint. Have you ever done a marathon to know what you’re talking about?
LH:
I have done a half marathon. I heard that expression once and I thought that it was a good way of speaking about my situation - I am here for the long term.

Q: So you believe that you will have the stamina to go all the way with Mercedes - in marathon terms, the full 42 kilometres?
LH:
Oh yes, I hope so. (laughs)

Q: Your memory must still be fresh of how the McLaren felt - a car that won seven races last season? How does the F1 W04 compare?
LH:
Well, on the first day I basically did only installation laps and then I suffered a crash. My second day was pretty promising. The aim was to do as much mileage as possible - and we did 145 laps. That is not bad for a day’s work. As the track is very abrasive, we basically ran hard and medium tyres so you are not looking massively at lap times. Very clearly the car is at an early stage. And as I have no comparison to Mercedes’ 2012 car I have to get acquainted from zero - and that takes time. Overall the feeling is positive and comparing with the past is not my thing.

Q: Were you surprised that there were serious issues on both of the first two days?
LH:
None of us had expected that. And of course it was a surprise. But that’s the way it goes. When you have failures on the car it is always a surprise.

Q: A positive attitude obviously seems to be in order right now – maybe the team have now had their share of bad luck for 2013…
LH:
I hope so. Keep fingers crossed.

Q: Returning to McLaren again, there were rumours of technical director Paddy Lowe following you from Woking to Brackley. Would that have provided a comfort zone for you at your new team?
LH:
I already have a comfort zone. I don’t think that anybody coming from McLaren would give me an extra comfort zone. I am already in a comfortable place where I am. I think if we are able over time to add good, strong people to the team it can only be positive for us, But at the moment, from what I know, the team is as it is.

Q: At McLaren you dealt only with team principal Martin Whitmarsh - and perhaps Ron Dennis on occasions. Now you have Ross Brawn, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda. Who is your first port of call?
LH:
Well, I report to Toto and to Ross - and also to Niki. The good thing is that I have these guys to go to. Martin was a fantastic boss - and I wouldn’t be in Formula One without Ron, so I was fortunate to have good bosses.

Q: Do you divide your reports? The technical stuff goes to Ross and everything else to Toto?
LH:
To be honest, whomever I see first I talk to. When I am at the factory I speak to all three of them - or particularly to Ross and Toto because they have all the connections to all the engineers and mechanics. I mention something to Toto and I reiterate it to Ross - I push from both sides.

Q: Does it help to have with Niki - someone who has been a champion as well and who knows how an F1 driver ticks?
LH:
Definitely it is an upside to have somebody who knows what I feel in the car, who can understand and relate to what I said.

Q: What does your dream career at Mercedes look like? 2013, 2014, 2015?
LH:
World champion, world champion, world champion! That would be the dream. I wouldn’t dream any other way. If I didn’t wake up every day and work towards being a world champion, then I would be wasting my time.

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