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Hamilton: Don't count Rosberg out just yet

02 Jul 2016

Fortune favoured Lewis Hamilton on Saturday in Spielberg, as the Mercedes star captured pole and saw title rivals Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel hit by grid penalties. Even so, he expects a tough race on Sunday, when he will be hoping Ferrari can be an unwilling ally and keep a charging Rosberg at bay...

Q: Lewis, not that you would wish bad luck for anyone else, but for once it wasn't you suffering misfortune - your team mate Nico Rosberg has the grid penalty, while you are on pole. Is that a relief?

Lewis Hamilton: No, not for me. We are a team and that is all that matters. But there is an opportunity, however, and I will do the best I can to bring in the result the team deserves.

Q: On Friday you were not happy with your pace, but today obviously worked out. Have you found some speed either in yourself or the car, or was it down to the conditions?

LH: It had nothing to do with the car. And actually I was driving well, but obviously was not quick enough. Today I have found the time and made lots of improvements. Nothing beats a situation when you achieve your targets. (laughs) I am very happy with this afternoon. And believe me, it was pretty difficult to set the car up when you are not on the limit because of the conditions. When you can't put the car where it should normally be, then you can easily start chasing your tail. So it was super to see that we were able to put the car right up there on pole.

Q: We have seen a few drivers having difficulties with the kerbs. What is your take on the situation - what should the drivers do?

LH: Look for the grass! Like in the old days. (laughs) Well, that might probably not be the solution for everybody, but it's the one I prefer.

Q: So what is the feeling - do you have to try and stay off the kerbs entirely?

LH: Both [the 'baguette' and normal kerbs] can cause failures one way or another. As I just said, I prefer having grass, as we did years ago. You wouldn't have gone as wide as Nico and Daniil [Kvyat] did. Now you go wide, and you can get back on track… but with a failure it sends you off in a different direction so aggressively, and that is probably even more dangerous than grass would be. I am sure they [the FIA] worked very hard to come up with the right solution. After what we've seen in the last two days, all I can say is stay away from them.

Q: You said you might have to take engine penalties toward the end of the season - and that one way to solve it could be to stock up on power units during some weekends. Have you been speaking to the team about the situation?

LH: That is a solution I have come up with myself and have not spoken to the team about it. It is definitely something that you could do over a weekend. I am definitely taking a sixth engine - so now it is just a question of when I take that. To try and limit it, we will have a close look at all the coming races. At the end it will be my decision, and I am trying to be strategic. Yes, it would be nice to have some engines in the pool. 

Q: It would be great for the team if you and Nico can still finish one-two here - but obviously that wouldn't be ideal for your championship hopes…

LH: Honestly, I don't think about what is best for somebody else in the race, I just focus on my job. That is where my mind is right now, and whatever will be, will be. There is no point in wishing or hoping what somebody else will do. That is where my energy, and all my concentration, goes.

Q: Talking about your chances for the championship - Bernie Ecclestone said you will bag a fourth drivers' crown this season no matter what. Do you share that confidence?

LH: Wow, that is quite a statement! It means a lot to me to have that positive feedback from someone like Bernie, the man behind what we are all in today. There are 22 drivers and he could be saying something like that about any one of us - so for him to have such a positive look upon me is incredible. He has been massively supportive in the last few years. That is really cool, regardless if it is going to happen or not…

Q: … and he said it even before qualifying…

LH: Ha, that was probably a hint for me: don't let me down! (laughs)

Q: This is a track where you can overtake, and Nico has been pretty strong here lately, winning for the last two years. Even with his penalty, do you think he can challenge for victory tomorrow?

LH: Actually it is not that easy a track to overtake on - overtaking a car with a similar speed is not easy at all. It is a downforce circuit so it is hard to stay close on the infield. I have no doubt that Nico will try everything to come close, but on his way he will have to face the two Ferraris. But yes, Nico has been very quick here. It seems to me it's one of his strongest tracks, and probably my weakest, so let's see what that tomorrow brings. At the very least it will be an interesting race!