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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: More motivated than ever for Spa 23 Aug 2013

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 22 August 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013

The summer break arguably came at exactly the wrong time for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton - after all, he dominated the last round of the championship in Hungary. But having used his time off to get himself even fitter for the second half of the season, Hamilton arrived in Belgium determined to carry that race-winning momentum into Sunday’s race at Spa-Francorchamps. After a relatively low-key start to the weekend on Friday, the former champion spoke to reporters…

Q: Lewis, today was probably not the ideal start to the second half of the season…
Lewis Hamilton:
It’s Friday and this is the day when you can try things and see if new bits and pieces are working - it’s not race day. I’ve said it so many times before, but I’ll repeat it again: Friday times are Friday times and we take it as such. So let’s focus on tomorrow afternoon to see what the pecking order says after the summer break. The fact is that the car feels pretty different here with the low-downforce set-up, so we still have a bit of work to do tomorrow morning to be right there in the afternoon.

Q: After your Budapest victory, people have said that you’re the man most likely to be able to challenge Sebastian Vettel’s title aspirations. What’s your stance on that?
LH:
Well, it’s the same old story all over again: you have a race win and people immediately count you among the title candidates; you have a bad race and you are down and out. So I gave up listening to what is said quite a while ago and only focus on what I can achieve on the track. I was really training hard over the break, different to what I’ve done over the last six years when I’ve taken the summer break as a real holiday and trained maybe twice a week. Now I have been training six days a week, trying to get myself centred, and I came here more motivated than ever. It is definitely helpful that we have a car now that can support my ambitions and that we came here knowing that we can fight the Red Bulls, Lotuses and Ferraris. We are only a bit over half season, so there is still a long way to go until Brazil. I’m definitely going into the second half of the season far more positive.

Q: That extra training that you’ve been doing - and it definitely shows on your upper arms - was that something that you planned a long time ago, or was it the enthusiasm from your Budapest win that inspired you?
LH:
I simply wanted to try to do something different and keep myself busy over this break instead of lying on the beach and chilling. So it was a different approach and it was really productive.

Q: Everywhere you go in the world you’re going to get people recognising you. How important is fame to you?
LH:
When I was a kid and started karting, I only wanted to be a Formula One driver because of the driving - fame was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted to be the best race driver in the world - in Formula One. I wasted no thought on how it would be when people recognise you and watch every one of your moves. When you are in GP2 or GP3 you’re not prepared for what comes along when you move to Formula One - you are just there to race. Then you move to Formula One and everything changes because when you start to have success in F1 you also start to live under a microscope where every little move that you make is analysed by all the self-appointed experts. That is why I love to go to the United States, because nobody notices me and I can go anywhere. There I can go with the flow and don’t stand out. That is a great feeling being in the norm and doing normal things without cameras chasing you or people making comments. Once in a while you need that feeling of being anonymous in an anonymous crowd. And yes, I’ve followed my music project, but right now there is not much to say about it.

Q: Mercedes have a plethora of key team members. Can you name one key strength of each of the following people: Niki (Lauda), Ross (Brawn) and Toto (Wolff)?
LH:
Now I have to watch what I say! Let’s start with Ross. You could say tonnes of good things about Ross - it’s hard to pick out one. What matters for me is that he is a great team principal and easy to approach. It is a great atmosphere in the team. I love to have him as my boss. Niki is every inch a racer and so I have a lot in common with him - how he approaches racing. That’s why we are as close as we thought we would be. And Toto has a great way of organizing and placing people and is a good friend.

Q: Are you surprised at the level of performance you’ve achieved at Mercedes? Did you imagine that after half of the season you would have been able to win?
LH:
Definitely not. When I signed last year I analysed everything - I made notes on everything - as it was important for me where the team were, why they were in that situation, and where they were planning to go. When I learned about what they planned for the future that obviously helped me with my decision. When we started the season I still had the memory in the back of my mind from McLaren - on how development usually goes and knowing that McLaren was a great team in terms of developing through a whole season and being able to turn a not so good car into a great car. That was where Mercedes had been struggling over the past three years, so I thought that we would start the season a lot further back. So to win is fantastic and very, very much welcomed.

Q: Looking back at last year, you came to Spa with a whole lot of speculation about your future. Now you are free from all these distractions. Will it help?
LH:
Last year, of course, I tried not to let it affect me, but you never fully manage that when you don’t know what move you should make. Now it is a great feeling to come here and just be enjoying this fantastic track - and hopefully achieve a good result.

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