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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: This weekend is more of a level playing field

18 Sep 2015

Lewis Hamilton arrived in Singapore off the back of a crushingly dominant win in Italy which saw him open his championship lead to 53 points and move to within one triumph of Ayrton Senna’s victory tally. By his own admission, Hamilton is driving better than he ever has, and he has an exceptional race car, but if the first day of running in Singapore has shown the Mercedes star anything, it’s that drawing level with his hero this weekend won’t be easy…

Q: Lewis, in the past Singapore was a stand-alone race and it made a lot of sense to stay on European time for the night race. But this year it is back-to-back with Japan so wouldn’t it be better to make a transition to Asian time, as you have to do a time zone change anyway?

Lewis Hamilton: I will stay on European time. I’m right now focusing on this weekend and not the next one, and will adapt from Sunday night to Monday when I travel to Japan. I travel a lot so time zone jumps are not an issue for me.

Q: The fact is that you could become champion without winning one of the remaining seven races. Did you ever guess that you would be so dominant this year, given the fact that it was very close last season?

LH: When you approach a season the word ‘dominance’ is not really in your vocabulary - you just want to do your best weekend after weekend and eventually win as much as you can. Last year I struggled in qualifying and that made the weekends much harder for me. But when I look back there were many successful weekends that I had in 2014 - even if I was coming from P2. I have set myself new goals and targets this year - and that has probably been the biggest challenge in itself. I know what I am capable of.

Q: Speaking of challenge: Monza obviously was a perfect weekend for you starting from P1, leading throughout the entire race and winning. Is it easier to drive to the maximum with a car where you know you can do it easily - and win - or when you have a car where you have to do the maximum in order to win? What is more challenging?

LH: I never arrive at a weekend thinking that I don’t have to do everything to win! Winning is not an easy matter! My engineers and the guys in the factory - we are all pushing to win this title, so in fact there is not one moment on a race weekend where we are not pushing. Just because we are ahead doesn’t mean that we are taking it easy. Every time that I go out in the car I drive the nuts out of it. There is no difference to the times when I had a crappy car.

Q: You have a comfortable lead over Nico (Rosberg), but that means that Nico has nothing to lose. When it comes to wheel-to-wheel racing will that be a consideration on your mind?

LH: I’ll race the same as always.

Q: Looking at your flawless race two weeks ago in Monza: would you say that right now you are driving at your best?

LH: I have been racing for twenty years and I like to think that this year is my best year as I have been learning with every year that passes by. Even when looking at 2014, I know that I made tiny steps forward - and that I am driving now to the best of my ability. To live to the maximum of my potential!

Q: You have clearly improved your qualifying from last year. Was that done to the cost of your race pace?

LH: My races were very strong last year - but by improving my qualifying I would say that the race pace is still strong - probably the same as it was last year, but it probably didn’t have to be as strong as it was last year - although I do believe that it is. So no, I don’t think that there have been any losses by one over the other. My race pace is still to my complete satisfaction.

Q: You could equal Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 race wins this weekend. Is there any Senna win that stands out in your memory?

LH: I’m sure my preference isn’t that different to most of Ayrton’s fans - probably I would pick his race in Japan where he was forcefully fighting with Alain Prost and Prost crashed out. But what really stands out for me is that he never gave up: he was always pushing to the last metre of the race. And equaling the number of race wins with him: I am not here thinking permanently ‘I can draw level with him’. It can happen here, or at one of the next races.

Q: So how was it today? You have won here twice - but also had two DNF’s…

LH: It was a good Friday. Thumbs up! This place is awesome in the night - the city lights and flying by historic buildings and super avant-garde high rises - almost nothing beats that. You climb out of the car exhausted but happy. My guess is that we will see a bit of a more level playing field due to the characteristics of the track. It already started to show today. But yeah, I would love to make it three wins here - without eyeing Ayrton’s 41!