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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Racing here is like working out in a sauna

23 Jul 2015

From his very first outing in a Grand Prix car at the Hungaoring in 2007, Lewis Hamilton has been nigh on unbeatable at the Budapest venue. The Briton can already boast four victories (and five podiums) from eight starts in Hungary, and if he triumphs this year he’ll surpass Michael Schumacher’s win record. Ahead of this year’s event the world champion discusses his affinity for the circuit and city and describes just what it feels like to race under the heat of the Hungarian summer sun…

Q: Lewis, out of all the drivers you have without a doubt the best record on this track. Is there any particular reason for your success here? Do you enjoy this circuit?

Lewis Hamilton: It is definitely a circuit that I enjoy. It is a bit like a go-kart circuit with all these low-speed corners. You have to have a really good front end - which we do - so it is always a pleasure to race here. On top of that the weather is good - it is gorgeous summer time - the perfect scenario for a fun race!

Q: You have won here four times already - that is quite something. What is your best memory?

LH: I don’t think that I have a best memory. But I do have very good feelings coming here - from the moment I land here! The fans are fantastic, and in the end they make your day. The weather is always great, and I do love the city - the historic architecture, the food - everything. Every win was special! I won here in my first year in F1 and it was here in 2013 when I had my first win with Mercedes. Probably this sticks! (laughs)

Q: How do you cope with the heat? It’s hot enough out of the car, but in the cockpit with your race suit on it must be a feeling close to hellfire…

LH: Yep, it’s almost unbearable. The underwear, the race suit, the balaclava, the gloves, the helmet... It would make a good outfit for a downhill - but here we race in 35 degrees and still climbing. The moment you leave your room it is like a workout in a sauna…

Q: Is that how you prepare: working out in the sauna in your full outfit?

LH: Funny thought!

Q: But that is what some of the drivers want to make you believe: that they work out in full outfit in the sauna…

LH: Let them! I personally like it not wearing too many clothes… laughs. Ah, this could be taken ambiguously - but it’s not! I do run in the heat, I do drink a lot so as not to dehydrate - that’s it. No sauna anywhere near!

Q: What about the idea of having closed cockpits in the future? That could lower the heat factor and raise the safety aspect? What is your opinion?

LH: I saw some pictures of such a car. And it looked pretty cool. Nobody knows now if it really works. I am never against any changes that are positive for the safety but also for the racing - if it doesn’t take away the enjoyment of racing. So let’s wait and see if something is developed in that direction that works on the track.

Q: Nico (Rosberg) said that he is not perfectly happy with the feel of the brakes. When you first came [to Mercedes] you also didn’t like the feel of the brakes - has that improved for you?

LH: I did feel perfectly happy with the brakes in the last race. I won’t follow you down the garden path: he wanted to let me know that via the media… (laughs) The fact is: we don’t have any issues with the brakes. Of course brakes are a huge matter here. In the heat they fade very easily - they drop-off. But it’s a challenge, so I enjoy it.

Q: How hard has this week been so far? Not only going to a funeral but also having to face for the first time that one of your colleagues has been killed from a racing injury?

LH: For me personally I have experienced that situation before. Or a very, very similar situation. When I was nine years old there was a kid I was talking to just before the race - and then he passed away on the track. I remember going through a funeral - so this week was very much déjà vu for me. It is something that we never want to see in the sport. The sheer magnitude of what happened makes you almost gasp. It is somewhat strange that we are all here today again - healthy - and a young, talented individual is not. It is hard to comment.