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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: I'll be even better in 2015

24 Nov 2014

Lewis Hamilton opted for quiet rather than wild celebrations on Sunday night, reminiscing with family and friends about his journey from a young, starry-eyed go-karter to becoming a double Formula One champion, before joining his Mercedes crew for their end-of-season party.

But while he admits the full magnitude of his success might take a while to sink in, his attention is already turning to 2015 - when he believes he can learn lessons from this campaign and become an even stronger F1 force...

Q: Lewis, has it sunk in overnight that you did it again?

Lewis Hamilton: No, it hasn't sunk in yet. Of course it is an incredible feeling to wake up this morning feeling fresh and definitely grateful - and somewhere in the back of my head knowing that I have won the title!

Q: Your journey for this 2014 title started pretty much precisely one year ago when you went for your winter training in Colorado. What is your schedule now? What is the plan for the next few weeks after such an incredible season?

LH: I don't have any plans yet. I have just realised that my phone has been ringing like crazy - like never before. And then there's all the text messages. It will probably take the next couple of weeks to get through them, as I always like to get back to people. I will probably not be in the factory this week, but the following week I will be there and working on next year's car - seat fitting and all that - and seeing when we will do the season analysis.

Q: You said yesterday on the podium that this title means more to you than the first one. Why is that so? Is it the incredible journey with Mercedes - or because you did it again after six years?

LH: The first title was exceptional, of course. It was achieving your lifelong goal of getting to Formula One and winning the title. I don't know if I had the constitution back then to fully embrace it in a way that I will be able to now. Of course being part of this team is more satisfying - and to win the championship with them is just incredible after all that hard work to get to where we are. Then it also makes a difference to be in a different stage of my life. Maybe success tastes so much sweeter when you've matured. It is very special - and very much a humbling experience.

Q: Which team mate was harder to beat: Fernando (Alonso) when you were a rookie at McLaren, or Nico (Rosberg)?

LH: It is different. As a rookie back then I didn't have so much F1 experience on such a high level to go out and match someone like Fernando. So that was tough in itself. This season on the other hand was one of the toughest if my career, with so many ups and downs. But having that experience of 2008 helped a lot, to stay in control of the pressure.

Q: What is your worst, and best, memory of the season?

LH: The best, of course, is November 23rd - so yesterday - and winning the race. And also today - and very likely the following days! And when it comes to the worst experiences: I always try not to remember too much any bad experiences. Of course there have been tough races like Monaco or Spa - with Spa probably the low point of the season. But the following race at Monza was a boost, in my drive and my feeling in the car, so that teaches me that you never should give up.

Q: How did you celebrate? You look remarkably fresh...

LH: I came back from the track quite late. It was pretty busy to celebrate and hug everybody in the team. I had dinner with my family and we reminisced on so many things from the past - how we started out sitting in the back of the trailer with a flask of chicken noodle soup and sitting by the gas heater. I always shook my dad's hand before I went out there to race. We went through all these moments. And then we popped out to party - my family, my brother, my girlfriend - to let go of all the stress and all the worry, and just see happy people. But I left pretty early as we had the press conference scheduled pretty early.

Q: When you said that you've matured - in 2014 the qualifying head-to-head goes to Nico, but the title to you. Have you understood that qualifying is not so essential, provided you get the car right for the race - and then deliver?

LH: Well, it definitely makes the race harder - twice as hard - if you are not in front of your team mate who sits in the same car. And then you remember all the talk: will Lewis make his tyres last and be able to save fuel with his aggressive style? But throughout this year I have proved time and again that I utilise fuel and tyres just as well as anyone. And in the race you have to get past people - and there I use my race craft. That's what I grew up doing! I used to start karting races at the back, as we didn't have these super-fast engines, so I had to go through the field. And that I do best! Of course I want to improve my qualifying performance for next year - that is certainly a point I will work on - but I have no worries. Nico did a great job in qualifying, and I am sure I will also improve for next season.

Q: What made the difference between Nico and you this season? Was it technique behind the wheel? Was it mental strength?

LH: We mainly had the same set-up, so we largely had the same car on the weekend - our driving styles are quite similar. Fernando and I, we had very different styles and wanted very different things from the car. So this season was probably not about pure pace but about utilising the car. I think as far as I remember I maximised the time that I had on the track. I came to a race having studied that track before - I came prepared - and the work was done with my engineers. That made a massive difference compared to my first year with the team last season.

Q: After 2008 you must have been dreaming of doing it again. What is your dream now? Any record hunting on your mind?

LH: Of course you start every season hoping to do it again - equipped with the knowledge of the previous season. You think you will be even stronger the next season. So yes, it is my goal - and I have faith in the team that we will also be very strong next year. In 2009 the cars changed dramatically so it was not automatically given that you would get it right - but with only little changes in 2015 the car will be right up there again. We have seen that some drivers can also do it the following year - they seem to travel on a positive curve - and I hope that this is the case for me next year. But you have to take it one step at a time and stay realistic. But believe me: I will push as hard as I can. I am still very young - and definitely not finished.

Q: Your relationship with Nico was quite turbulent this season. How pleased are you to have beaten him to the title?

LH: It was a fierce battle throughout the year. Nico was also right on the edge until the last race - and that is what you want from a competitor. We are team mates so we want to get both cars across the finish line - but we also want to be ahead of him. There is an internal competition and an external one. There will be a lot of learning done from me and Nico to handle things and I am sure next year we come back and handle things better.