Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Finishing races now paramount

The Italian Grand Prix ended on the opening lap for McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, when an overly-ambitious overtaking move on the Ferrari of Felipe Massa saw him plough into the gravel at the first Lesmo with damaged steering. It was his second DNF in three races and cost him the championship lead. But after being comforted by the unswerving support of his team, and with the reassuring knowledge that he still has a fighting chance to take a second title this season, Hamilton has already moved on from his Monza misery. As he explained in an interview with his official website, he is now focused on making amends at the forthcoming Singapore race…

Q: There’s not much to say about Sunday’s race, is there?
Lewis Hamilton: Not really. It’s one of those experiences that happens in motor racing sometimes. It’s always so disappointing, because your adrenalin is really flowing and then, immediately, it gets cut short right when you’re in the heat of battle. But, like I say, these things happen - it’s not the first time my race has ended on the first lap, and it probably won’t be the last, unfortunately.

Q: How do you cope with that? Is it easy to deal with the disappointment?
LH: In bad situations - and they’ve happened to me before in my career - you need to soak up all the lessons that need learning. You absorb that information, put the bad experience to one side, use the benefits and just move on. I got up on Monday morning and I was already focused on the next race, improving the car, and closing in on the world championship. You can’t dwell on the negatives - we are still in a good position, and we need to capitalise on that.

Q: On Sunday, you felt that opting for a low-downforce configuration was probably a mistake. Did you feel differently going into the race?
LH: You can look at the numbers forever, but, at some point, you’ve just got to get in the car and drive it. After qualifying, maybe I felt it wasn’t the right way to go, but we had a look at how the race could have gone, and there were definitely some positives. Mainly, I needed less fuel than the high-downforce cars, because I was carrying less drag, and, most importantly, I had the potential to pick off cars on the straights, because of my top-speed advantage. That wasn’t guaranteed, of course, because we didn’t get to see how the car would be affected in the slipstream through the corners, but we saw in the race that it was pretty much a stalemate out there. I’d like to think that if I’d stayed in the race, I could have done some passing.

Q: Was it heartening to read (team principal) Martin Whitmarsh’s comments that you shouldn’t change your approach?
LH: Of course, because it’s nice to hear about the support you get. But, in other ways, it actually goes without saying as I couldn’t really ask for more support from my team - I know they’re always behind me. You feel like you’ve let the team down when you have a bad result, so I’ll be fighting harder than ever for the rest of the season.

Q: So you’ll be heeding Whitmarsh's advice?
LH: I’ve had two non-finishes and one win in the last three races - and, while that’s not bad, it does mean that I lost points to some of the other drivers in the hunt for the title. And those results aren’t enough to get me the title. l’ll keep pushing. I’ll take each race as it comes, but I’ll also be making sure I get to the finish of the next five races - that’s more important than anything. I go to Singapore to win.


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