Hamilton: It was very hard and tough race
18 April, 2010
Apr.18 (YF1) McLaren Mercedes scored a 1-2 with Lewis Hamilton taking second place after a fantastic drive in the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit. Here are highlights from his anwers to questions during the post race FIA press conference.
The first time you and Jenson have been on the podium in F1, standing together. But quite a battle you had to get there though.
Lewis Hamilton: I had quite an eventful race. First of all congratulations to Jenson he did an incredible job today and yes, made the better choice on the tyres. But it was very tough. Obviously at the beginning with the weather it wasn’t easy making the call or when to change the tyres. I chose very, very late, when I was half-way round the last corner and clearly it wasn’t the right choice. I fought my way through, we both did a tremendous job and it is really down to an awesome job the team are doing. We have been working very hard, so it is great for the team.
The stewards are still looking into the pit lane incident with Sebastian Vettel. Any worries on that one?
Lewis: Not really aware of. Not really sure what they are talking about.
When yourself and Sebastian came out of the pits together. It got very close after the pit stop and the stewards are having a look.
Lewis: Are they.
Everything okay as far as you are concerned?
Lewis: As far as I am concerned I think it was okay. I think the team waited for quite some time and they released me when they thought it was the right time but I got quite a lot of wheel spin, so I struggled to get out the actual box. As I came out I noticed Sebastian was there and he was pushing me a little bit to the right. We touched wheels but otherwise I think it was fair.
What was it like for you at the end because the gap was really fluctuating between you and Jenson?
Lewis: Yeah, very tough for me at the end. The same as Jenson. My tyres were finished. I came into the pits, I think, a lap or two earlier than him and pushed as hard as I could to close the gap. It wasn’t particularly easy, simply because for my first stop I came in too early which was really the wrong call for us and kind of ruined the race a little bit in terms of obviously putting on the wrong tyres. At the end after the safety car I was seventh, so I had a long way to come from, as before that I was something like fourth or fifth, so I lost some more spaces, so I had to work hard to catch up Jenson. After that I came into the pits and pushed so hard, so I think I ruined the tyres and it was the same for Jenson and he started to pull away. At the end he started to struggle. I was struggling but closing a little bit and he had an off. It was very similar times but I think we did an awesome job between us both. I am very happy that we could get a one-two. The first one-two this year and hopefully the first of many.
But you had a fantastic race. You were racing somebody, Nico, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian in the pit lane. It was absolutely fantastic.
Lewis: Maybe for you it was. It was for me. It was definitely an exciting race. I just felt that every time I made up the places somehow I would lose them again. If I made up three places I would lose two. Make them up again and I would lose one, so it was very hard, a very tough race but I am very happy with the result. To climb my way back up to second was a good job, so I am happy with that.
And seeing you racing with Michael. I think that is basically what we have all waited for, for the last three races. It was tremendous.
Lewis: Yeah, I mean Michael… I couldn’t really see him in my mirrors and it wasn’t easy. It was ages to get past him, same as Nico. The two Mercedes obviously have got very good engines and we had a good battle. I think I lost a little bit of time behind him but once I got past I felt I was gone.
Another podium finish and another great drive. There were some reports out today that you’re not speaking with your father. Do you feel that that is the case and that you’re doing perfectly fine on your own at the moment?
Lewis: Yeah, I’m doing perfectly fine, enjoying life, taking my time in the decision process of finding a new manager, in no particular rush. I’m speaking to the family, I don’t speak to them every single day but things are fine.
Who made your decision at the beginning to come in or not to come in for tyres?
Lewis: For me, I was speaking to the guys down the back straight and they weren’t clear whether we should come in or not. I came on the radio at the last corner I think it was, when the safety car came out and said ‘shall I box now?’ and there wasn’t a fast enough communication between the team and they didn’t get back to me in time. I got halfway round the last corner and I think they said something, I think they said ‘box this lap’ and so I turned right but I wasn’t really sure, so I just pulled in and at the end of the day it wasn’t the right call, whether it was mine or theirs. At the last moment, I think I turned because I thought that that was what I was meant to do. Unfortunately it lost us a little bit of ground but we made up for it.
How satisfying is this to get one over Red Bull? They sat where you are yesterday, very pleased after qualifying, and you both said on Friday that you suspected that they could go a lot quicker. How satisfying was this?
Lewis: It’s a great feeling for the team, rather than worrying about whether or not we beat the others. Obviously we want to finish ahead of the others but it’s more the effort that the team puts together and the effort that we all put in through all the testing we did, to finally be here, having the pace but not quite getting it in qualifying but finally our first one-two in a race. I know the team have all got their red shirts on, for sure, and we will be celebrating tonight.
Could you tell us a little bit about your pit stop alongside Vettel? Even the entry into the pit lane was quite tricky.
Lewis: I don’t really remember too much about it. I think Vettel got on the outside of me on the exit of the last corner; I was worried that he was going to turn into the last corner and I was going straight, so I just kept going and he came with me. We got round into the pit lane, it was fine. When I did the pit stop the guys waited for some time to let all the cars go past and they released me at what I thought was a good time and there’s a big, long, blue line down the pit lane which is all painted and it’s so slippery. As soon as I hit that I had some major wheel spin and lost a bit of traction. Unfortunately that let Vettel get alongside me, but otherwise it was good racing.
As we all know, this is the last year of the contract between FOM and Shanghai and maybe this is the last time you are appearing here. What is your deepest impression of Shanghai?
Lewis: I think it’s a very, very impressive city, lots of great restaurants, seems to be surrounded by lots and lots of good people. There’s something like 24m people here, so it’s huge in comparison to all the other cities we go to. But when it comes to the track, for me I love this track, I’ve always generally gone well here. Not the best memory in terms of the end result in 2007 but a great weekend. 2008 was a great weekend. Generally, every trip here has been fantastic for me. And one particular thing I would say is the fans. You travel the world and you go to all these different races and you have lots of fans at each track, but I’ve never known – apart from the British fans who come here and back home – this is probably the second most incredible place in terms of the support you get from the fans. They’re waiting at your hotel in the morning, they’re waiting at the airport and they buy you gifts and they’re just so excited and enthusiastic. I’ve got a flag in my room which was given to me by a fan. I’ve got all these letters back in my room which I have read and I think that for me, that’s what powers the season and through the race weekend, so I’m most appreciative of that.