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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: If you don't make mistakes here you're not pushing hard enough

19 Jun 2015

In Austria, for the first time since Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton ended Friday’s running without having topped either practice session. But despite several off-track moments preventing him from setting a representative time on supersoft tyres in FP2, the world champion still felt optimistic after the first day of action...

Q: Lewis, you are a massive traveller, jumping time zones as if it is nothing at all. What about the jet lag?

Lewis Hamilton: I tell you a secret: I do not have any problems with jet lag. Or maybe I am always jet lagged! (laughs) I simply like travelling and I do it as often as I can.

Q: David Coulthard is quoted as saying that racing is dull these days. Maybe not for you, though, as you are mostly in the lead...

LH: Yes, it is different. Years ago you had fuel pit stops and you had tyres that you could push further - but now it's the new way. It is still massively challenging. Believe me: the different driving techniques that we use are not a walk in the park. I do see that it might be frustrating when you are behind and want to push as much as you can, that suddenly you are somewhat handicapped as you have to watch the fuel and have to watch the tyres - because otherwise you are out faster than the blink of an eye. There are so many things that you have to have in the back of your mind.

Q: You had some issues here in qualifying last year. Have you worked in the simulator to try and resolve them?

LH: I have not driven the simulator this year. The other day I just did a couple of laps, but that was just to try a new pedal concept. I generally don't drive the simulator these days - I like the real experience! But when I think back I did a very quick qualifying lap, I just didn't finish it. Now, the second time around, the target is to be quick again - but without the mistake.

Q: Does that mean taking fewer risks?

LH: Well... I guess so! (laughs) Less risk in that particular corner!

Q: Do you still talk in private with Nico Rosberg, or is the relationship frozen, and just about race-related stuff?

LH: We don't talk so much. We arrive at the track on Thursday and then everybody does their own stuff. The race weekend is too short for much social interaction. The last time we really spoke was when I came to his apartment and we sat down and talked. We were playing with his dog and talking about him becoming a father soon. When we have private talks, then it happens at home, by the pool or in the gym.

Q: Nico went into the Canadian weekend with the momentum of two straight victories. How important was it for you to break his momentum by winning in Montreal?

LH: I don't really want to talk about momentum. I don't believe too much in the concept. You have two weeks between the races and I don't think that you can carry momentum over weeks. It simply dies. The Canada win was important for me to know that I'm back after a real difficult race in Monaco. It was a testing thing for me as it was not an easy race to come back from and I could have easily slipped in the following race. To bounce back, drive the same and win was really positive for me.

Q: The information you got from the team in Canada was quite extensive, in particular brake and fuel management. Wouldn't it be better if none of you guys got information from the pit wall? Wouldn't that improve the show for the spectators, and leave the decisions in the hands of the drivers?

LH: Honestly, if you take that information exchange away, it wouldn't make any difference to the people watching a race. That is my personal opinion. For us drivers - the way the tyres are we simply don't have all the information in front of us to make our own decision. For example, at the last race in Montreal Nico used more rubber than I did. I don't know why - but it happens that sometimes he uses more and sometimes I do. And you can't feel how much fuel you are using. You are driving as fast as you can - so we need some guidance with that in order to not run dry and be forced to stop in the last couple of laps of a race. I would bet any money that if you lose that info, the races would still be the same.

Q: What would happen, in your opinion, if that sort of information was prohibited?

LH: I would still drive the same. And if there was no info on the fuel, my guess is a number of cars wouldn't finish the race. Would that be exciting? To be honest, we get much less information compared to a few years ago. My guess is that people are just complaining about something because they are unhappy about something! (laughs)

Q: One of your peers, Nico Hulkenberg, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Could that ever be something for you?

LH: To be honest, this is something I have never been interested in. I love cars - but it is not something I have ever wanted to do.

Q: You finished second here last year - and it is one of only three tracks on the calendar you haven't triumphed at. How much would it mean to you to fill that blank spot on your winning map?

LH: It would be nice! I grew up playing computer games with this track - and then I never really had the chance to drive it. It definitely was one of my favourites on the computer. Then I watched the days of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello here so I was really excited coming here last year. What I didn't know is how beautiful this place is; how stunning with the mountains around. I had a really good time here last year - I had my two dogs with me and walked them in the meadows. It is so nice to have no noise. It's nice to be in the countryside.

Q: So how did it go today on track?

LH: To be honest it wasn't the best of days today - but then it wasn't too bad either. I did some sectors really well, and at others it didn't go so well - but I pushed very hard. And trust me, if you don't make any mistakes here you're not pushing hard enough. Yes, there is room to improve, as we've already done from FP1 to FP2. Ferrari look pretty fast here, yes - but I know that we've got good pace so let's see what we will be able to do tomorrow and then in the race. As I just said: it would be nice to fill the blank spot on my winning map! (laughs)

Q: The conditions for the weekend are difficult to predict - it might rain in both qualifying and race. What would that mean for you? Would the Mercedes gap increase or decrease against the others?

LH: I think that the gap could be diminished a little bit. Yeah, I think that. But I think we are in a good position should it pour down - I like driving in the wet.