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Hamilton Q&A: I see Verstappen's talent, not mistakes

02 Sep 2016

Max Verstappen's row with Kimi Raikkonen has been the talk of the paddock in Monza - at least until Felipe Massa's announcement that he will retire at the end of the season. We sat down with Massa's 2008 rival Lewis Hamilton to discuss the Brazilian's legacy, his view on the Spa fracas, and why he is ready should another title battle to go down right down to the wire...

Q: Lewis, what are your thoughts on Felipe Massa's retirement? You obviously had an epic championship fight with him in 2008, which has passed into F1 legend...

Lewis Hamilton: I wish him and his family all the best and for sure this sport will miss him. It has been great racing against him – especially in 2008!

Q: The Max Verstappen/Kimi Raikkonen scrap at Spa is still a hot topic here. Do you have a particular opinion on it - or on defensive driving in general?

LH: I do not have any opinion on that, as it has got nothing to do with me! I try not to get involved in other people's business. Max is a quick and fast driver and he is learning. He is only 18 years old. Most of us at the age of 18 did some silly things too, I am sure of that (laughs). He already has a Grand Prix win under his belt and he is an exceptional driver. This is what I see.

Q: How different is your mind-set compared to last weekend's race knowing that no penalties will be waiting for you?

LH: I do not feel any different now than I felt there. Perhaps subconsciously I never knew that the engine was going to make it. But this is still a question also here, as you never know what will happen. Of course you hope that with a fresh engine you are in good shape. I had fresh engines earlier in the season and things happened. I am not really at risk for any particular penalties and I can race, so yes, I should be in a good position. I am very happy with the engine phase that we have, and I know that I can win races with what we have. I can hopefully focus and get my head down and get back to the way I was driving before the summer break. 

Q: With Monza being the last European race of the season, which Grands Prix are you most looking forward to in the run-in?

LH: I personally live for travelling. I really enjoy going out to these long hauls as there are so many beautiful countries waiting to be discovered - they are more of an adventure than the races we have in Europe. To be honest I always have the feeling that I get to discover new things on these fly-away races. I don't really know why, maybe because you tend to spend a longer time at these locations. Of course for the team it is more of a challenge. But all of us are professionals that know how to handle these things. Each year we are also growing in understanding our bodies, and hopefully we get better in terms of sleep-rhythm and nutrition. We are growing the number of sporty people in our team - and that makes a difference! (Laughs) Coming to the races I am very much looking forward to: those that I haven't been able to win so far! It would be nice to tick the boxes of Brazil and Mexico this year!

Q: Nico Rosberg said that he was surprised to see you on the podium last weekend. He was probably hoping to bank more points over you. What did you make of his reaction?

LH: I think that this was just a normal reaction. It was an important race for him, and of course very important for me. I got what I needed from it and even more, as I always said that I love to come from the back and make it to the podium! That was very positive and I move on from it knowing that the penalties have now been done and dusted. So the battle-free weekends for my opponent are over! I hope that I get to fight for the championship directly again!

Q: Indeed you had a pretty good day today...

LH: …yes, but there is also a saying that you should never count your chickens before they are hatched. Yes, I was able to do many laps and everything went smoothly - but speaking about a really good day is when I have scored 25 points, and that only ever comes on a Sunday. Those are pretty good days!

Q: What role does luck play in your career, your achievements - your life?

LH: I generally don't look at my career in terms of luck. My dad had four jobs at one stage to keep me racing - that wasn't luck. I honestly think we have earned it. So I don't particularly believe in luck as I think you generally make your own. For sure there are scenarios in life where one is more fortunate, as it could be the other way. I am very fortunate to be here in Formula One and still be young, fortunate to get to travel around the world and drive the car the way I do. I do not look at my results thinking that I was really lucky to win that race.

Q: Do you think that the fight for the championship title will last until the very last race?

LH: I hope not (Laughs). I have not done the calculations of what is possible and what is not. I take one race at a time. I have been in both scenarios and I am ready for whichever one. If it will be in the last race I will be on it, and if it is before then great. I just make sure that I prepare the best way I can, so that whatever the outcome, I will have performed to the best to my abilities.