Q: Lewis, it’s your sixth pole position this season - out of seven. Is pole almost becoming ‘business as usual’?
Lewis Hamilton: I wish it would! (laughs) But believe me, it is not that easy.
Q: You had rather unusual practice sessions here. You damaged your car on Friday and then got very little running on Saturday morning - and then pole. Can you explain how that works?
LH: Friday didn’t have much of an impact. Even with the rain we got done pretty much everything that was on our list. We got a relatively decent run on the option tyres - and then it rained. Probably we would have gone to another tyre, but that was not really important. I think we were already in a good place in understanding the tyres. This morning we wanted to use to find out where our balance is, but I didn’t even get near that - but this didn’t hurt me in qualifying anyway.
Q: What happened to you this morning? Things didn’t look so promising…
LH: Basically we only did two runs. The tyres take a couple of laps to warm up - you have a sort of banker lap and then a pushing lap. I went out when it was still pretty cold and I tried to push from very really early on and it just locked. The front tyres didn’t have enough temperature and just locked and flat-spotted it so I could not run anymore and had to come in for another set - and I did exactly the same [again] so could not record any laps, which was quite negative as you don’t get a feel where the car is. Then you get unsure what to change with the balance and I was not able to give any feedback of how the car was feeling and what changes I wanted, so we kept the car the same and, surprise, it worked.
Q: Had you anticipated anything near the front row?
LH: To be honest I was surprised how smoothly everything fell into place. I went out in Q1 with the idea of taking it one step at a time. We did a longer first run in Q1, which allowed me to get on it again, and that was relatively easy. From there it really worked for me.
Q: It seems that the last corner was the crucial point for your pole…
LH: …every corner is challenging on this track. But yes, the last one is particularly challenging. Yesterday we had a headwind into the last corner so you could brake quite late and everybody pushes here to the limit because there is so much to gain in this corner. Today it was a tailwind so it was completely reversed: you can’t brake at the same spot and everyone takes it back a bit. But of course you still want to find the limit - and I think I found two-tenths and a half there. That was where the ‘big money’ was. (laughs)
Q: Were you surprised that Ferrari were a long way behind today?
LH: I think we didn’t anticipate them being a couple of tenths off - that the gap would be that significant. But that’s positive!
Q: When you say that you had issues with the tyre temperature this morning, do you believe there will be issues in the race?
LH: I believe tomorrow afternoon will have the same conditions as in qualifying and then we had no issues with getting the tyres to temperature. Obviously I had to do an extra lap, but then it was fine. So I think it will be fine in the race. I think it will be much more about degradation - but there we learn as we go.