Q: Lewis, you seemed to be trailing Nico throughout practice this weekend - so how did you pull out such a stunning lap in qualifying?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, qualifying is obviously an opportunity to pull out all stops to prove in all areas what you can do with the tools that you have. You just want to go as fast as you can on the foundation you have. On Friday I didn’t have much of a foundation – I only got there in FP3, and from there I wanted to put the car in the best position there is. My Q2 time was a really nice lap and a good step for Q3 – so all in all some pretty nice laps! (laughs)
Q: It is your 52nd pole position. Watching your onboard, it seemed there was almost a desperation to reach that number...
LH: Ha, then you don’t watch me too often! But yes, it was amazing. It was different to times when all practice sessions go smoothly – and then you have pole. This weekend I had problems and I had to overcome them. In Q3 the first fast lap didn’t go to plan so I had to do it all on the second lap – which is always tricky. The usual way is to ace the first lap, and then try to improve upon that on the second go. Today was different, but it worked - and I am really happy with it.
Q: You described Friday as a lost day in terms of finding set-up – how difficult is it to go back to the right set-up path?
LH: Very difficult. When you practice it is about building blocks. One step at a time! FP1 you don’t do many changes as the track is too green, and then in FP2 you make changes - you're sort of chasing your tail, but you probably discover something. But if you start in FP3 it is pretty tough. My engineers did miracles in the night! Because if you start the weekend basically with FP3 you have to bank a lot on the situation – so if you come out [with pole] that’s a great feeling!
Q: How much did you need that pole position – just to keep you in the game and maybe turn things around?
LH: Well I have not really thought too much about that. But yes, I am behind a lot – and if you want to change things pole is the best option. The goal is always to go out and get pole every time. Yes, I am behind in the races, but there are a lot of races ahead – and lots of opportunities.
Q: What’s your guess: will you break Nico’s winning streak tomorrow?
LH: Ha. I never guess anything! I don’t jump to assumptions, or at least I don't try to...
Q: It's human nature though...
LH: ...yes, it is. But fortunately it is not my nature. (laughs) I don’t have any preconceptions. Whatever will happen tomorrow will happen. All I know is that it will be hard work tomorrow. Because it is not you alone that is responsible for a result: there are so many things that come into play. So I will just enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon and try to be in my best frame of mind. And get some good sleep tonight! Whatever will come my way I will react to it.
Q: You had former team mates that have been world champions like Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. How do you rate Nico (Rosberg) against them?
LH: I don’t rate anybody against the other. They are all good in their own way! True the first two have been world champions. What more can I say?
Q: Were you surprised to suddenly find both Red Bulls behind you and not the Ferraris?
LH: To be honest I don’t look behind me – I always look forward. I don’t pay much attention to it. But of course it is great to know that they are not really far off! It is such a great team and two great drivers. I assume their rise has something to do with power because their car is not that far off.
Q: Do you expect them to be a real threat from Canada onward then, when they bring a major engine upgrade?
LH: I would be guessing – and I am not guessing. And maybe we also have something, who knows! (laughs)
Q: The latest rumour has it that your excessive life style is taking its toll and you are contemplating a one year sabbatical in 2017. Is there any semblance of truth to that?
LH: It is always amazing what people dream up. Yes, issues have come my way this season – but I have also had three poles. And when you take the last race, and see where I came back from - then I have to say it is very early days to come up with those kind of things!