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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Start in Mexico more crucial than ever

29 Oct 2016

Starts haven’t been Lewis Hamilton’s strongest suit in 2016, but with a run of nearly 900m between the start line and Turn 1, and the likelihood of overtaking being extremely difficult, the world champion knows he can ill afford another bad getaway if he's to convert pole position into what could be a crucial victory in Mexico...

Q: Lewis, did the changing track temperatures in the course of the sessions have an impact on the times? Did it help?

Lewis Hamilton: Yes, the track definitely shifted from the morning, where it was pretty cool, to pretty hot conditions in the afternoon. The balance definitely does shift. So you have to adapt your lap from FP3 to qualifying. And I have to say that the hottest point in qualifying wasn’t really that great, I have to confess. But it worked for me! (Laughs)

Q: It looked as if all of you struggled to put three sectors together. Why?

LH: Basically because of the tyres. It is hard to get them in the window in every section. There is a working range for these tyres and because there is not so much vertical force on the car, even though we have maximum downforce, because we are so high [in altitude] it is much harder to get temperature in the tyres. So the balance is shifting even throughout the lap.

Q: Have you gained confidence from the start you made in Austin last weekend?

LH: Yes. Last weekend I felt a lot more confident with the whole process. I wish it had been that way at the start of the year! At least we’re getting it right now! But I have no illusions here: it will be a long way to Turn 1 tomorrow! So it will be even more important to get a super start.

Q: Have you changed anything to force that process?

LH: It is a continuously working process. We have improved and there are still things that we are working on until the end of the year.

Q: This is your tenth pole position of the season. Are you happy with that number?

LH: Yeah. Qualifying in not going too bad! (Laughs) Ten actually is a good number! It is also somehow strange how each year your strength and weaknesses change. This is what makes this sport so great: you always have to work on something! 

Q: Were you surprised that Nico recovered to P2 on the grid after a rather difficult morning?

LH: I really was not focusing on Nico to be honest. I was concentrating on my own pace. And to be honest I think people would be rather surprised with him being so far behind in the morning. He has the same set-up as me, so I knew that at some stage he would be right up there again if he finds the right window - because these lap times are what the car can do!

Q: It is a long way down to Turn 1 as you just mentioned. Does the guy in P2 an advantage because of the tow?

LH: No, because the tow is very minimal here. Last year I was right behind him and it made hardly any difference! The tow effect is much smaller here than at other circuits. But, yes, it is still there and I have to stop it!

Q: Red Bull are pretty strong again and they are on a different tyre strategy…

LH: My guess is that they will have an advantage of three metres into Turn 1 - so we have to look to keep them behind.

Q: Overtaking seems to pretty tough here. So the one that comes out of Turn 1 must have an advantage. Would you agree?

LH: Yes, overtaking is pretty tricky here so position is generally everything. Being behind and making an attempt to overtake would mean being six-tenths faster - that is my guess. And that is hard to achieve. And believe me I will do anything not to put that to the test!

Q: Is Nico’s position in any way crucial for you and your attempts at the title?

LH: No. I am focusing on the race and nothing else. As long as I am in the lead that’s all that matters to me.

Q: We know that there is much more pressure on the tyres here. To handle them right, is this a matter of technique or more a feel issue?

LH: Well, both. Obviously there is temperature coming from the brake and going into the tyres and the rims - so you have to look after that carefully. It is not as simple as it was.

Q: Nico and you run the same set-up. Is that by accident?

LH: We generally start the weekend the same and then we change things - many times a bit differently - and we change to the set-up that seems to be the best option. Sometimes Nico has felt more comfortable in the car - and then we would shift to that avenue and vice versa. I think we’ve both found a very good set-up for tomorrow - and it will be an awesome race for the fans!