Mexican GP Sunday Press Conference
PARC FERME INTERVIEWS
(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Lewis, youāre a four-time world champion?
Lewis Hamilton: Viva Mexico!
Q: Lewis we can see some battle scars on your car, you had to fight hard for this one, almost as hard as Iām fighting to get you to say something. Lewis, it wasnāt the way you wanted to win the world championship, but you won this world championship. Tell us about the race and tell us about the emotion.
LH: I just want to say a big thank you to everyone that came out to support us. I hope we gave them a great race today. The Mexican fans are, I think, the best Iāve seen around the world. Honestly, you donāt get to see this everywhere. Weāve got great fans around the world, but this isā¦ you guys really create this atmosphere, so big thank you. I did everything I could. I had a good start. I donāt really know what happened at Turn 3, but I gave him plenty of room. I tried my hardest to come back. Just a big thank you to my family, to my team ā Mercedes have been incredible for the past five years and Iām so proud to be a part of it.
Q: Youāve had time to think about this championship, does it mean than the previous three, now that you are in an elite club of only five men that have achieved that amazing record?
LH: Honestly, it doesnāt feel real, man. Obviously thatās not the kind of race that I want, when youāre 40 seconds behind or something. But you know, I never gave up and thatās really whatās important, whatās in my heart. I kept going right to the end. Iām grateful for today and I just want to lift it up to my family and to God and, as I said, my team.
Q: Congratulations, Lewis Hamilton, our four-time world champion. Max, meanwhile, you won your third grand prix. Impeccable start to that race, thatās really what made that opportunity. You won by a massive gap, you must be delighted?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, of course the start was very crucial, I went around the outside, so that worked out well. From there on I was just basically looking after the tires and the car, which just performed brilliant in the race. Of course, a big thanks Red Bull, because of course without them this was not possible. After last week, this is a perfect race.
Q: You donāt even have a sweat on your brow, just how good was that race, controlling it out from the front?
MV: Yeah, I was cruising. It was great.
Q: And the start, that was crucial. It was oh, so close. Behind you, you had multiple world champions all touching each other.
MV: yeah, that was good to see for me, and from there on I just pulled away.
Q: Great stuff, Max, enjoy that victory. Valtteri, 20th podium, steady race, but it didn't really look like you had the car under you this afternoon, so whatās going on in the cockpit?
Valtteri Bottas: Well, first of all, I would say big congrats to Lewis and massive congratulations to our team for winning both titles. Itās been really nice to be part of it. And thank you Mexico. Red Bull was just too quick today. We tried everything we could, but we just couldn't match them and this was the result
Q: Kimi, youāre a model of consistency, this is your 90th podium. I know you donāt really care about that, because youāre all about victories but again the start compromised you and then it was just a question of damage limitation?
Q: Max, the third win of your career, and your second win in the last four races. It seemed it was crucial on that run down to the first corner and what you managed to get done there. Just talk us through the opening 20 seconds of the race.
MV: Yeah, so initially, I donāt know, with the pre-start limiter I was a bit too high and I almost touched the limit so my start was not great, but then actually because of that I was in a good position, because then I had a good slipstream from Sebastian. I went on the outside and I was like āIām going to try around the outside and see what happensā. I just saw we had a little bit of a touch into Turn 2 but luckily nothing happened there. From there onwards I could do my own race. I was pulling away every single lap. The car had a great balance, I could look after the tires and, yeah, I managed to bring it home like that. Very happy. I knew that the car was good but I didnāt know that it was going to be this good in the race.
Q: Any nervous moments? You were the only Renault-powered runner still going at the end of the grand prix?
MV: Well, I think Pierre was also still going, but I could see a lot of cars blowing up and retiring, so I was definitely a bit worried but we looked after our engine and everything seemed to work pretty well.
Q: Well done to you Max. Valtteri, turning to you, you end a three-race streak without a podium, so how good was the Mercedes car in Mexico this afternoon?
VB: Well, in summary, I think it was not good enough. We couldnāt keep up with Red Bull, with Max. We couldnāt fight for the win today, which is unfortunate. Of course it was a pretty straightforward race, there were no safety cars or anything like that to help us, to give us any opportunity. Handling-wise, it was all not too bad, but just missing grip, sliding a bit around, lacking grip in the corners. I think thatās where Red Bull is still at an advantage in places like this. But I really need to say at this point, massive congrats to Lewis for the world title. I think he really deserves it. And also big congrats for the team, winning both titles this year. Of course, for me itās unfortunate itās not me winning the drivers but it is good for Lewis and Iām happy for him.
Q: Kimi, Valtteri says the Mercedes wasnāt good enough here in Mexico, how was the performance of the Ferrari?
KR: I donāt know really! Itās hard to say, because I was on my own most of the race. Again, in the beginning I was stuck behind a Force India and I couldnāt get past, but once he went to do his pit stop I had decent speed, but it was quite a handful the handling, it wasnāt the nicest. But I donāt really know as I was on my own since that point. The guys in front of me were so far [away], and behind there was not really anything. Itās hard to say. It wasnāt too bad but I kind of expected it after a difficult day yesterday. I think the biggest issue was not being very strong in the start. The initial start wasnāt too bad but then I was side by side with Valtteri and then everybody in the front formed one line and I was outside of it and behind me guys were towing me and I was left kind of alone and then I had a pretty disastrous first two corners. Anyhow, it was what it was.
Q: Can we just a few words from you on the achievement of Lewis Hamilton, now a four-time world champion?
KR: I think you have to go and talk to him.
Q: We will do, but the achievement?
KR: Well, itās great for him, a lot of wins, a lot of championships. Good, but what can I say? I thinkā¦
MV: Basically, you donāt care, right?
KR: No, I donāt! Can we be happy about it? In a way yes, butā¦
MV: I think we'd prefer to be in that position, right?
KR: You can be happy for him but inside, you know, youā¦
Max, anything you can add about Hamiltonās championship? I appreciate you have won the grand prix and your time will come Iām sure, but just your thoughts on Hamilton please.
MV: Well, I think in general this year he has been the strongest and also the car was the most reliable between Ferrari and Mercedes and if you combine those two things you can achieve great things and thatās of course a world championship.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson ā Auto Action and Speedsport) Max, your teammate retired with some technical problems. Did the team tell your or warn you about anything that might happen?
MV: No, but I saw on the TV screen that he retired and then I saw another Toro Rosso in front of me on fire and I was like āOh, my God, donāt let this happen to meā. So we turned down the engine quite a lot and everything seemed to be fine. Luckily, I have quite a new engine, so maybe that helped out quite well, but then again Daniel was with a very new engine as well, so I donāt know. I had my bad luck in the beginning of the year, so Iām very happy that this time nothing happened to me.
Q: (Mariana JimĆ©nez ā Record) Max, after what happened last weekend in Austin, what does it mean to have this result here for Red Bull and for you and how did it feel to celebrate your victory here in Mexico?
MV: After last week I was very fired up and very motivated to do well, so thatās why I was yesterday I think I was giving it everything. Of course I missed out on pole, but I was very determined to win this race and I gave it all in the start, in Turn 1 and it feels great. Of course it makes it very special also here in Mexico with a lot of fans. They are very passionate about Formula One and itās a great podium to be on, which last year I think I should have been on already but I missed out at the very last moment but luckily now no penalties.
Q: (Erwin Jaeggi ā Motorsport.com) Max, do you think Red Bull can fight for poles and victories at every track now?
MV: Poles, itās difficult to say, because we donāt have this power mode in Q3, but our car in the race has improved a lot, even in qualifying. I think we still miss out a little bit to really be comfortably fighting for pole position but if we have a track where we can overtake then Iām sure we can fight for victories, otherwise you donāt win a race like this.
Q: (Jaap de Groot ā De Telegraaf) Max, can you tell me a little bit about how you were in curves one, two and three. You knew that was probably the crucial part of the race, so you just said. Can you go into more details?
MV: So, I was in the two of Sebastian and then I went to the left and then I saw Lewis, I think it was, also pulling to the left. So I was just hoping that I had enough top speed and luckily it was alright. And then, under braking, I was on the outside so he can brake a bit deeper into the corner and yeah it worked out quite well, it was on the limit, because itās quite slippery on the outside but then in the next corner you are on the inside. I just saw on the video that we did touch a bit but I didnāt really feel anything, so it was a very light brush, but it was very crucial for the race, for sure.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos ā Formula Press) Valtteri you had a grandstand view of what happened in Turns 1, 2 and 3. How did you see it and did it affect your race at all, or just helped? For Kimi, once you were on your own, you sort of kept the pace with Valtteri, but were you just keeping the pace or was that as fast as the Ferrari could do today?
VB: Yeah, for me in the start I was going in the second row of cars into Turn 1 on the inside. Lewis was a bit ahead, so he managed to get ahead of me, so there was a bit of a train immediately after Turn 1, but then Turn 2 things started to happen and I could see a couple of cars, I think Sebastian and Max side by side, so personally I decided to go for a good exit out of Turn 3 for Turn 4. I cut the inside line, and for me that was worth it and at the same time I was cutting inside I could see on the outside of Turn 3 some carbon bits and that was it, it all happens quite quickly. After that there was not much action for me in the race. We had to save quite a bit the brakes, the power unit, everything, so it was a bit of a shame. But still, even though full power and flat out we could not have matched Max.
KR: Obviously we were far from anybody and if we really wanted to go faster, for sure we could go a bit but we were so far away that it really didnāt make any sense, we really didnāt have the speed to catch up 20 seconds, so what can you do? You just end up bringing it home and you try next time.
Q: (Juan Pablo Garcia Noriega ā Capital Motor) Kimi, you were closer this season to Mercedes. What is the biggest challenge for 2018?
KR: Obviously I think itās the same for everybody. We try to improve, we try to do things better and make a faster car. Overall we made quite a big step from last year. I think itās small details that made a difference this year, but for sure the aim is always to improve and make things better and you know we are not the only one, everyone is going to do the same and to be honest we are only going to see in the first race next year where everybody is, and who has made what. In testing you get some idea but we have still two races to go and we do them as well as we can and start preparing for next year.
QUESTIONS TO LEWIS HAMILTON
LH: Well, firstly, everyone, thank you so much for the warm welcome. Itās been a long journey with all you guys, these past ten years. For the all the stories, positive or negative I appreciate all the support from all of you. Yeah, itās very difficult to come from a race, one which you, firstly, have not won, which was your target ā but I feel still great ā but then to be surrounded by so many people. Obviously thereās a lot of emotions. I would love to start by thanking my team. Mercedes signed me when I was 13, alongside McLaren and obviously I had exceptional years with McLaren. Very, very special time there, and will always have a special place in my heart. Meeting Ron when I was 10, telling him that one day I wanted to be a world champion in his car, and him giving me that opportunity, wherever he is today I hope he knows how grateful I am for that. And then moving to this team which was obviously such aā¦ people through it was a big risk, and gamble, but I had every belief in my heart, one hundred percent belief in my heart, that it was the right thing to do. Even if in the beginning it may have been difficult, I knew at some stage we would have this kind of success. Itās really weird how I had that. And then just to see the team grow. Itās trickled down from the top, with great bosses, great board members who support the team one hundred per cent. So to everyone back in Stuttgart, a big, big thank you. The guys back at Brackley and Brixworth, those guys. I mean, when you go there and see whatās happening, see all these great creative minds working day and night to do something firstly, that they love, that theyāve worked for years, obviously going through school and university, and then to see this beautiful piece of art come together in December and January, and Iām one of two people that get to go out and test drive it, itās the greatest feeling in the world. I think the FIA and Formula One did such a great job this year with this car. Whilst itās difficult to overtake, itās still an awesome car to drive. Formula One cars should be faster than anything out there. And yeah, this week Iāve just been reminiscing a lot about where I came from, yāknow? Growing up in Stevenage, dreaming of one day being in Formula One. And where I am now is way beyond my imagination. I think dream big is definitely something we should all do ā but to be four-time world championā¦ four definitely feels a lot better than three, and four is my number, obviously, so yeah. And Iāve got such great support all around the world and I want to say a big thank you to all the fans. A lot of fans here in Mexico, some Brits, some Mexicans. I love coming out to Mexico, so to do this on Mexican soil, particularly to shine this kind of positive light on the country, since itās going through a very difficult time over the past months. I hope this shines some positivity on everyone. Through the race I was just thinking to myself, āStill I Rise, just donāt give upā. To never give up. I was going back to when my Dad put me in the boxing ring when I was young and this kid beat the crap out of me. My nose was bleeding and I didnāt want to go back in, and it felt very, very similar to Turn Three today. I got the puncture. Could have easily resorted to giving up, making mistakes, but I felt, I remembered that moment and I was like āIām not going to give up, Iām going to keep pushing, even if Iām 40 seconds behind, Iām still going to give it everything, so that when I cross the line I can be proud of myself.ā And I definitely am.
Q: (Ysef Harding ā Xiro Xone News) Lewis, one of our great American sports journalists Howard Cosell always told Muhammad Ali how much he respected him inside and outside the ring, the history that he was making, and Iād like to say that to you. I appreciate being in this business and itās a joy watching you do what you do on track and making the history that youād made to this generation. Now to my question. Has this come full circle for you, given how youāve come up, the history that youāve made, being that youāve had to struggle through what your family have gone through, has it bought it full circle winning your fourth world championship.
LH: Definitely. In life, in the heat of the moment, when youāre going through difficult times, or even good times, you wonder how much further to push. Do you stop, do you turn around, do you turn left or right and go a different direction? I think itās just that when you eventually get there you realize it was all worth it. The way Iāve prepared this year, contrary to what people may think, training on your own, no-one can train on their own, thatās what people would say, travelling around the world the way I do, all these different things, but just doing it your own way and finding your own way I think, itās a day like today, when you win a championship, in front of so many people, it just solidifies your belief in yourself and your families belief in you, and what they stand for. So, Iām proud of all my family and itās crazy to think that Iām continuing to stamp the Hamilton name in the history books. Beyond my time there will be kids that will know the name and thatās probably what Iām most proud of. My Dad didā¦ I canāt even tell you what my Dad did to help me get where I am today. No matter how many wins I get, no matter how successful I am, I can never pay that back, but I just try and grab it with both hands, the opportunity that theyāve provided me and know also that thereās a lot of kids, a lot of people around the world, that are watching me, whether itās for inspiration or for guidance, and so Iām trying to be the brightest light I can to shine that in their direction.
Q: (Graham Harris ā Motorsport Monday) Lewis Hamilton, four times world champion, congratulations. You said fourās your magic number. Does that mean thereās not a number five?
LH: Actually 44ās my magic number but Iād be here a long time to get 44 championships! Four is a part of it. I like four. Jeezā¦ I wonder what the people at my school are thinking, when I was growing up, thereās a couple of teachers that said āyouāre never going to amount to anything,ā so I wonder what theyāre thinking now when they watch me today? For sure, theyāre probably watching. Or at least theyāll read the news tomorrow. I wonder what theyāre thinking? I wonder if theyāre thinking āI helped that young lad,ā or are they thinking āyou know what, I regret what I said and Iāve grown from it.ā I hope thatās really the case. I hope theyāve grown though it. I hope that whoeverās kids they are teaching today, theyāre encouraging them, rather than pulling them down. But yeah, four is a great number. I want number five now. Iām going to stick with four, enjoy number four but I think, yāknow, you just take one step at a time. Itās really about embracing, firstly what you love, the people that you work with, your family. Itās really about not listening to people who try to tell you what to do. Itās about you finding your center and your core. Because weāre all different and weāre all unique in our own way, weāre all bright stars. Thereās no-one in this room thatās not a star. If you feel that the person next to you is a brighter star, it doesnāt mean you canāt be as bright as them. If anything, you should use that as inspiration, to shine even brighter. I hope my winning the fourth time, world champion from Stevenage, I hope thatās a testimony to show that you really can do something from nowhere. I hope one day Iām able to help find the next me because heās somewhere out there.
Q: (Phil Duncan ā PA) Congratulations Lewis, well done. Just going back to the race, you said on the team radio, or you asked on the team radio whether Sebastian had deliberately crashed into you. Do you think that he did hit you on purpose? Do you think it was a bit of desperation from Seb, and would you like to speak to him about it?
LH: Iām going to take the negativity, swing it back and send you positivity dude. It doesnāt even matter what happened. Today Still I Rise was on the top of my mind, and you get knocked down and you get back up and you keep pushing as hard as you can. Dude, I was 40s behind today and I don't know how it looked from outside. It didn't feel great ā but I just never gave up, I just kept pushing. I knew that I couldnāt win the race, clearly, but I was āyou know what, Iām going to have the best race I can possibly have from wherever I am. It took forever to catch one guy, and then eventually catch them and so hard to get past ā but I enjoyed every battle. I tried to use all my skill. Turn One, I didnāt give up. You guys are always wondering if Iām going to take the step back and not push, and I think I was balanced with my aggression in Turns One, Two and Three, I donāt think I was too aggressive, didnāt lock-up, I didnāt make any mistakes and that is something Iām really happy with ā ācos naturally under the pressure, I could have done too much or too little. I was, of course, surprised to be hit and yeah, I left a lot of room so to wonder why the dude behind, that I was fighting, touched me, of course it was on top, yāknow, weāre great drivers, heās a four-time World Champion, itās quite easy not to hit each other ā but in the midst of things it can also be quite easy to touch. So, I donāt really care and I don't feel like analyzing it. Iāve enjoyed racing against Sebastian and to race against a four time world champion, and even today, to have the battle with Fernando, I was like āthis is one tough mofoā. Back and forth, back and forth, Iām likeā¦ Formula One, just wait ātil this guy gets a good engine, because the car was great through other sections, and I really hope for McLaren, who Iāve already told you has a special place in my heart, I really hope next year is a better year for them. I hope they have a stronger engine a stronger car, and Fernandoās a tough bugger ā a tough cookie, I prefer that word ā and I enjoyed the little battle I had with him and I hope we get to have many more like that.
Q: (Rebecca Clancy ā The Times) Lewis, congratulations, youāre now the most successful British driver ever, you stand alone on four championships, is that something youāre able to get your head around? What does that mean to you?
LH: I think at the moment itās too far out of reach. Itās like Iām in space. It just really doesnātā¦ itās not registering at the moment. That often happens when you win a championship. Of course thereās all the energy from all the people around you and youāre riding on Cloud Nine but itās really hard to itās really hard toā¦ it takes a while for it to really, truly sink in. But when I think about everything thatās gone on this year, the past two years, and everything thatās had to be put in place to produce the results we have today, yāknow, I donāt sit hereā¦ while Iām sitting here on my own, thereās over a thousand people who backed me up, who lift me up, who create the machine in which Iām able to exploit my talents, my abilities and for that Iām just so grateful. I wonder how many people in here thought it was the worst move to Mercedes? Of course itās been years already before youāve changed your opinion ā but isnāt it cool. Isnāt it cool to see someone take a risk like I did and it to come out the way it has? Iām really, really happy about it and proud of all the people that have helped me achieve it and looking forward to the future.
Q: (Michael Schmidt ā Auto Motor und Sport) Congratulations. This battle was hard-fought this year against Ferrari and your car was up and down. Sometimes you didnāt have the best car in the field. Overall, would you say, from a sporting point of view, that was your most valuable championship? Did you have to give more than in the other three?
LH: I think everyone has been difficult, different in its own way. Of course, if you look back to 2015, consistency was good and obviously it came in a different way. Still, I think individually, it felt challenging on a personal level ā but I think this year is a championship of which Iāve been hoping for, a little bit like 2008, where youāre fighting another team, fighting this historic team, which Michael raced for and won championships in. Ferrari isā¦ the red carā¦ redās my favorite color so itās such a beautiful car to see on the track ā but to fight it with a silver sword is, yāknow, itās like the master sword, you want to say. Iām really proud of that and to be able to battle someone else who is a four time world champion, a proven world champion, whoās got great skill and a team also that knows how to win championships, to extract the most from my guys, to compete with that. Thatās how every championship needs to be, and I hope thereās more championships like this one where we have this tough battle. I think every single year thereās going to be things that areā¦ reliability is always a challenge, which has been exceptional, thanks to the team but fighting the other teams is what we want to see. I think what Formula One wants to see. I remember growing up watching Formula One and thatās what I wanted to see. So Iām sorry if the last couple of years werenāt the greatest for you but I hope this year was more exciting.
Q: (Inaudible) Toto told us that you asked the team if there was any possibility of Sebastian arriving second and the team said to you, ānoā. From this moment, did you react in a different way. You were on track, itās looks like the moment you were trying to overtake Alonso and Magnussen.
LH: I donāt know how it is for you guys watching this race. Itās a great race as a spectacle but itās a very, very challenging race because, one, obviously weāre very high so weāve got maximum downforce, very small drag, so overtaking is very difficult. Following is, I mean is so difficult, almost impossible to follow another car, we almost need special wings or tires for this race because a one-stop is boring, so I hope they make some changes. We need specific Mexico tires, so that we can have more than one stop, and, I don't know, somehow adapt the configuration or have a different strategy that can create overtaking, because thereās so many people that come to watch this race. Itās one of the most attended grands prix that we have and the energy is spectacular, soā¦ what did you say? What was the question again?
Did you react differently Lewis, once the team had told youā¦
LH: Oh, no. I could see the TV screens, I could see where I was and, damn, it sucked being 12th. It took forever to get 11th and I was seeingā¦ he was not as unfortunate as I was to get a puncture and be 40 seconds behind, he was at least able to remain in the fight so he had a much better opportunity and obviously drove fantastically well in the race after Turn Three. But I could see heās climbing and Iām thinking, āJeez, I know he has to finish second, I knew that Max was 70 seconds up the road, so I donāt know. I just try to keep a gauge of whatās happening up ahead. I was thinking ādo I have to get eighth to win it? But all I could think of was trying to get up as high as I could. Iād look back, Iād look at the laps and think āmaybe I could have pushed a little harder here and thereā but at the time my soft tire had to go to the end, and it wasn't feeling good, so I was just trying to look after it initially, thatās why I didnāt have great pace. Then we had the pitstop and I still went in 26 seconds behind, came out 30 seconds behind and Iām like āwhat the hell?ā But yāknow, this is one of those things that are sent to test me and, as I said, that giving up factor is very, very easy to do. Itās always easy to take the easy route, just back off, turn the engine down, not push, hope for the best. But I kept racing and thatās what I live for. Thatās what I started out karting, when I had a crap go-kart, when I first started, I started last and I made my way through, and thatās what I tried to do today.
Q: (Mike Doodson ā GP Plus) Lewis, letās not beat about the bush here, because we journalists just love a personal feud between drivers. We got one last year with you and your teammate. This year, we were expecting really good fireworks between you and Seb but instead of which, you sit together in press conferences and you really seem to like each otherās company, in spite of the fact that youāre constantly knocking bits off each other out on the track.
LH: You sound pissed off, man!
Q: (Mike Doodson ā GP Plus) Tell us about Seb; what so special and enjoyable about him?
LH: You do sound upset. Iām kidding. Look, weāre not 20-year olds, weāre grown men now so I think if you watch tennis, you watch the great players, the great golfers, great athletes in the world and the mind is everything. The mind is what is in control, not the things that surround it. Naturally youāre having a battle with the guy behind. Thereās that famous saying, in the art of war, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I watch Sebastian, I know what heās achieved in the past years, I know how consistent heās been, I know where his strengths and weaknesses are. I know where the strengths and weaknesses of his car are. I do think itās still very very importantā¦ if you look at Nadal andā¦ when they came toā¦ the composure that they have through a game, and then also how they present themselves after a win or a loss. I think stars and athletes like that really set an example and I try to follow that, really, take a lot of inspiration from that. I think thereās times probably he hates me more than I have any of that feelingā¦ but I try not to contain any negativity in my life, no matter what is written, no matter what people say, Iāve managed to build this kind of barrier to bounce off negativity because I think love conquers all and positivity conquers all. So whilst you do want that feud after Baku and all of that, and even today, which seems a little bit odd, at the beginning of the race, it doesnāt matter. I think what matters isā¦ as I said, itās how you get up. I do hope that many of you here, whether or not youāre British, obviously Mercedes is German, so hopefully some of the Germans can still feel grateful but I hope the Brits, I hope you guysā¦ this is not just my win, itās our win, for all of us, wherever. Iāve got a cap here, itās got a US flag on it. I hope everyone can really enjoy this year and some of the great battles weāve all had and Iām not going to try and give even more controversy next year. I hope that we just give you more raw racing, you know? Thatās what the sport needs, thatās what weāre struggling towards. I hope today was exciting. The little battles I hadā¦ I had so much fun. The one with Fernando wasā¦ I was like, really Dude? Come one. It was cool. Whatās a shame is that Formula One cars, in particular here, overtaking is so difficult and soā¦ thereās got to be some way of creating that battle without creating a deficit in engine power or something. Thereās got to be some other way to have more fight back. We had this great race today and thatās the only battle I really remember that Iāve enjoyed as much.
Q: (Stuart Codling ā F1 Racing) Lewis, throughout this year and possibly even more so in the second half of the year you seem to have been able to get more out of what is quite a difficult car than your teammate. What have you found within yourself to do that and why is it such a difficult car to extract this performance from?
LH: Itās obviously got great qualities but generally the philosophy of how a car has been designedā¦ over the years itās got some of the same traits of the previous years but being this year bigger tires, longer car, itās exaggerated some of those things and in a year when the losses are even greater than the previous yearā¦ Iām sure youāve heard on the radio some of these things weāve talked about and some of the things weāve talked about in the car, and the loss of downforce which we donāt see on the other cars. Itās been a great year of course, because weāve really sat down in these debriefs, places like after Malaysia, when we sat down and had the longest debrief with the guys. Whatās amazing is to have guys who really listen to every single thing ā feedback ā you give back about the car. Theyāre just wanting more information. These engineers, they love that stuff: more numbers, more information the better. So me and Valtteri have really been working hard to give the best feedback. These guys come from Harvard and Cambridge and Oxford so theyāre on another level to us drivers so to be able to convey what youāre feeling is not the easiest. But Iām proud of its flaws because sheās not been perfect. Whilst people have written that weāve had the best car, I donāt believe weāve had the best car. I think weāve been the best team, weāve done the best job but there have been times when weāve not had the best car, particularly on race weekends weāve done a great job. And times when weāve ā Singapore for example ā like weāre not going to do so well this weekend but weāve come out with more than we had hoped for. And really thatās what itās been about. I think next year - hopefully itās not too late ā but I hope we will improve on some of the fundamental issues we have on this yearās car, but then others will come out of woodwork. I think on my side of things, the operational side, working with my engineers, Iāve had the same engineers for some time. Bono (Pete Bonnington) has been with me from the beginning and his and their commitmentā¦ you donāt get to see what happens back in the office but theyāre constantly analyzing, just wanting to give the driver the best package. I couldnāt have done it without these guys. My guys in the garage, my mechanics, who take the car apart every single week and put the car back together. Do you know how many pieces there are for that car? There are so many components, theyāre faultless in what they do. I have so much respect for that because Iāve taken things apart and put them back the wrong way. Iām sure some of you guys have. So itās really exceptional to see people talented like that doing great things. And then when you get in the car, you know that youāve got that belief in you and you deliver as they deliver. Itās the greatest feeling.
Iām really enjoying giving you long answers.
Q: (Chris Medland ā Racer) Lewis, you referenced the fact that Seb was a four time World Champion and people often compare World Champions from different eras but is there almost an added edge and enjoyment that the two of you are going head to head for fourth, fifth and maybe more World titles at this moment in time?
LH: Definitely. Definitely. Itās kind of cool to be in this battle with him. He got 50 poles yesterday and Iām kind of like, I donāt want to give him any more poles because he gets closer to me. Thatās inspiration to keep pushing it, you know? Then the same with wins, same with championships and so then I see him sign for another three years with Ferrari and Iām like, Ferrari are not going to like me for the next couple of years. But itās OK, because weāre going to make it as hard as it can possibly be for them to win championships but I really am looking forward to that battle with them. Theyāve been such a great team this year, itās been great to see Ferrari back on form and as I said, I really hope others join that battle. Red Bull have been great today, big congratulations to Max, heās really the brightest young star that weāve seen for some time and I was hoping today to have a bit of a battle with him but it wasnāt meant to be. But there will be many more to come and I hope that in his early era that I can be a good force and a good battle for him.
Q: (Christoph Becker ā Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung) Lewis, picking up on that question; you just said you remembered Michael (Schumacher) racing in the red car and you said a couple of days ago that youāre not sure how much longer you want to be racing; you said a couple of years. In this moment, today, at this emotional day, if you listen to your inner voice or to your gut feeling, is there something that says: you know what, I can catch those other records that he holds? I can get to 92 GP victories, I can get to seven or eight World Championships, and I want to do that.
LH: I think, first and foremost, we all know how exceptional Michael was and his records have lasted for so long and he will alwaysā¦ thereās one particular record which is going to be very hard for anyone to catch. Each year I donāt set a goal to make records. I have a goal of somehowā¦ improving certain areas where you feel you could be better. I love racing, I love theā¦ Iām different. I love my different qualities, compared to the others. That doesnāt mean theyāre better or worse, Iām grateful for the qualities and the abilities I have in the car. It is very very crazy to think that Iāve matched certain records from people; weekend in, weekend out, someone tells me of a new record that Iāve crept up on, but there potentially many many more years to go. I do look at my lifeā¦ I travel so much, thereās so much that I do, itās a lot sacrifices. People talk about Michaelās singlemindedness about his job but to stand out in the world today, itās a lot harder, I think, to stand out today in this world, because itās all been done before, so to do something different as a Formula One driver, not only be the greatest you can be as a racing driver but also do other things, prepare your afterlife to be just as great, not as good because Formula One is just the pinnacle of the sport. You arrive on the biggest wave and afterwards there are going to be much smaller waves but that doesnāt mean you still canāt do great things. So doing something different that helps you stand out, that really highlights your individuality I think is really important and thatās really something Iām working on, so Iāll continue to race while I love it. As Iāve said, Iāve enjoyed it this year more than ever. I do think about Jeez, it would be so nice at some stage just to live in one place, a lot more socializing, walking your dogs every day or surfing, whatever it is, but staying in one place for a period of time. But then Iām thinking thereās a lot of life to live beyond forty, thereās a lot to go and so the balance is: I canāt come back to Formula One, so thereās going to be a point in which OK, Iāve had enough. Iāve already been blessed and had such a wonderful time here in these ten years. Hopefully I have my place here and Iām going to continue to ā whilst Iām at my best ā continue to try andā¦ and I want to go out on top so thatās my goal. Obviously each year, I could do the easy thing like obviously Nico did which is just stop and retreat with these four titles, but I think thereās more in me, I think thereās more to come, more of a challenge, as thereās harder times ahead and I like that, I love that, thatās challenging.
Q: (Rafael BolaĆ±os ā Televisa Deportes) If you can reflect on your career, how can you compare yourself with your idol, with Ayrton?
LH: I donāt myself ever really compare myself to Ayrton. I think itās very hard to compare oneself to previous eras, you know? The cars are always different. What I would say is that ultimately us racing drivers, what weāre great at is getting in a car and exploiting its strengths and weaknesses and putting it to the limit. All the drivers back to Fangio, no matter what vehicle you put them in, whether itās a car, jetski, whatever, we will take it to the limit because we have this certain sense of awareness and higher limits than others, I guess. I do feel very proud to be in and amongst those legendary drivers and weāre in a different era where safety is so much further ahead but technology also is too. The challenge Ayrton would have faced in his time is a lot different today, mentally, maybe less physically challenged but mentally more with all the electronics that you have to control. Itās not one era that is more difficult than another, theyāre just unique in their own way. I really do think that these great drivers, Ayrton would have continued to win more if he was fortunate enough to have more life to live. That bright life of his was cut short. Iāve always said it, since I got the first championship, I kind of liked the idea that Iām carrying a baton on and seeing how far we can push it. He inspired me as a kid, arrived at home on the weekend, heād be the one I would be looking out for. And even when he was gone, I still came back and watched his videos like it was just yesterday he was racing.
Q: (Carlos Jalife ā Fast Mag) Keeping a little bit the idea of the last question, can you compare your four mounts, the McLaren, the W05, the W06 and the W08, and tell us which would be your favorite? You donāt name them like Sebastian does but which would be your favorite mount among the four cars that have given you the title?
LH: The reason I donāt name my car is because itās not the same car youāre driving throughout the year. We have four, five, six chassis so it keeps changing, so you would have to have four, five different names and thatās a pain in the backside. So I donāt name the car. But you still obviously have a close connection with the car that youāre in, that keeps you safe. Each one is different. Obviously when I got to Formula One, 2006, so I donāt know what chassis that was, the MP4/22 is it, something like that? That was a different car, at the time I thought it was the most physically demanding thing that I had ever come across. And then obviously body then becomes accustomed to it but then we had bigger wings, then we went to lesser downforce, the grip was poor, I think ā14, ā15, the car was still good but today I think is definitely the best all-round car in terms of its size, the tire size, it looks a lot like the olden days. When you watched the old legendary cars go round today the cool thing you see is the sound, the big tires that they have, I love that and itās a lot closer to what you dream Formula One being like. I think this, for me, is definitely the best car Iāve driven but Iāve had the privilege of driving different cars. I drove Ayrtonās car from 1989 which is cool because they had the stick shift, you know? I really wish we had that here. Imagine that battle I had with Fernando, having to take my hand off the steering wheel. That would have been awesome. But itās not meant to be in this world of technology but I hope Formula One grows from here and I hope to be in that period of time where hopefully it grows into a better series than it already is.
Q: (RamĀ¢n TreviĆ±o ā El Universal Autopistas) Going back to the race, was there any time when you were 16th or 12th when you thought Iām World Champion and you think I have Brazil to be the World Champion?
LH: No, neither of those really ever come to mind. I honestly didnāt know thatā¦ I hadnāt calculated what I needed to or where Sebastian hadā¦ obviously at some stage they said that he had to finish second so then Iām like OK, I guess if I finish where I am thatās enough but for me thatās not enough. Backing off in a race is never fun, thatās why you see me battling Fernando at the end. I gave it everything, I took risksā¦ a little bit more risk with him than I really needed to but hey man, it could be my last race so I was like Iām going to give it everything. I was pushing right to finish line and thatās something I love. I had no tires left. So there was never a moment that I thought to myself weāll wait to Brazil. I think there was a moment for sure when it did dawn upon me which I may have toā¦ I was like, it doesnātā¦ we touched in turn three, itās OK, Iāve got two more races and itās not going to happen again, because Iāll put myself on pole and make sure Iām ahead, so itās not close enough. But no, I just thought, keep going, keep giving it everything and keep rising.
Q: (Bradley Lord ā Mercedes AMG F1.com) Would you like to come and celebrate with your teammates and do a great big photo?
LH: I would love to. Iām enjoying sitting here guysā¦ Thank you.
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