Hamilton: I reckon it was one of the toughest races I’ve ever driven
29 July, 2012
Jul.29 (FIA-Apex) Flawless, dominant, supreme, imperious, calculating – call it what you will, the truth is that Lewis Hamilton drove one of his finest races, to claim his third Hungarian Grand Prix victory at Hungaroring, his second of this highly competitive season, the 19th of his F1 career, and most pertinently, reignited his world championship challenge as McLaren came good once again.
A fantastic race for you, absolutely fantastic, under pressure all the time it seemed.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, these are the kind of grands prix, the races you win like this, where you’re under intense pressure from great drivers like Romain and Kimi – for me it’s a great reminder of the old days with Kimi – and this is the kind of day when you have to have your mind 100 per cent and I feel great because the team didn’t flinch and neither did I. It was a really enjoyable race – but it wasn’t at all easy. In fact, I reckon that it was one of the toughest races I’ve ever driven – but, guess what, I’ll savour it all the more for that.
Great pit stops as well.
LH: The first one wasn’t spectacular but the last one was very, very quick. We had a problem in the first pit stop, I think with the left rear, but otherwise we didn’t lose too much time there. But the second pit stop was fantastic.
Was there any temptation to go for a third stop?
LH: The team were talking about it. The plan was to do a two-stop but, you know, I had my target laps and the team weren’t confident that I was going to make it to those laps but I knew I would. In my second stint I could have gone longer but they wanted to cover the guys behind which was probably the right thing to do. So, as we did that, then it was just trying to make those tyres last a long time while keeping this guy (Räikkönen) behind. Which as you know, they are absolutely rapid, these guys. So, you know, if we were on another track where overtaking was much easier I think perhaps the result would have been different.
They seemed to catch and then drop back. How close was anyone ever coming to overtaking?
LH: He was never really close enough. I purposely allowed him to close up in certain corners, so that he may have problems with his tyres eventually – but it didn’t look like it was going to happen. But I had to make sure I saved my speed for the last sector and made sure I drew a big enough gap in the last three corners and I did that every lap. I could see it was very difficult for them to follow, particularly through those areas, so it was important to make sure you maximise, especially with the DRS.
How frustrating is it for you, going into the long summer break now that it seems that your car has picked up pace and both you and Jenson seem to be fighting for the win again?
LH: It’s not frustrating at all. It’s quite nice to go into the break knowing that we had a win. Every year that we’ve done that it’s been a great feeling. I think it’s very very very important how we manage the summer break, mentally and physically, but we’ve clearly still got a lot of work to do. We should obviously take from this a pat on the back for a great job from everyone but we must know that we still have a lot of work to do. These guys were absolutely rapid in the race. If we’re going to stay ahead of these…if they were to have qualified at the front, it would have been impossible to have got past them. So we need to remain focused and of course enjoy the break. This will carry on and the guys will carry this for the next week or so, I’m sure, back at the factory. Guys were wearing their team tops and hopefully we still have good pace and hopefully even more when we come back.
Each win is important of course, but is this more important after all this stuff about your private life, when you said I’m in the best moment so let’s party to enjoy this?
LH: I definitely think it’s always good when you come away with a win. There always seems to be a lot of talk about me and my private life. Hopefully this will answer lots of the things that have been said. I am 100 percent focused this year, regardless of what people think. I’ve been on it all year, I’ve never been so committed but of course, I’m still in my twenties, I do want to enjoy my last bit of my twenties, because I’ve heard it’s downhill from then on. I’ve got to strike a nice balance and I think I am.
As an Englishman, how does it feel to win this so-called Grand Prix of Finland every year from Kimi?
LH: Grand Prix of Finland?
There are so many Finns.
LH: There are a lot of Finns here but you know what? For me it’s great to see Kimi up here with me. I think he’s done…you know I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him. I remember racing…I remember watching him on TV before I even got to Formula One and you know, when I used to play the computer games I would always play as him. It wasn’t Juan Pablo, unfortunately, and to think that we’ve had some great races in the past together and now another great race. Hopefully in the future we will have lots more races but Hungary has been good to me, really has been good to me. I really really love the fans here, I love the city. We always have such a great turn-out here but the track is awesome. I don’t know how the other drivers feel but it’s such a classic, so I really can’t wait to come back here again next year and hope to repeat it.
You took good points from Alonso. You are both to the lead of the championship. What does this victory mean in terms of fighting for the title?
LH: This weekend shows that it’s all to play for still, not enough points taken from Fernando as he still got ten points but bit by bit, if we can continue with this kind of performance then we can slowly catch him but we know we need consistency and we need to improve the car still in many areas, and that, I’m sure, we will do. The team is doing a fantastic job. We’ve now got the quickest pit stops or usually the quickest pit stops. Today I got the best start I’ve had all year, I was really surprised by it. This is a really good stepping stone for us, especially after the difficult races we’ve had over the last three tough races, it’s great to come and end the summer on this high.
It’s been a momentous weekend back home with the Olympic Games starting. I was just wondering if, as a British driver with a British team, winning here must feel extra special?
LH: Yeah, it does feel extra special because obviously with the Olympic ceremony and the Olympics starting and obviously wishing all the teams the best, I can’t wait to at least watch it on TV, but to be able to have it back in the UK I think is great for Great Britain. Yeah, I carried the flag on top of the helmet today. I hope that it was visible. I feel that I’ve done my part, even though we’re not in the Olympics. I feel like I’ve done my little bit today, this weekend, as has the team for the Olympics.
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