Cape Town - Lewis Hamilton sits down to talk teammate rivalry, double points at Abu Dhabi and his F1 hero in this Q and A.
Did you see: Lewis Hamilton in one of the BEST interviews ever!
How does the Championship battle you’re having this year with Nico
compare to the battles in 2007 and 2008?
The battle does feel a lot more intense this year. When I was
racing against Raikkonen and Massa, they were in a different team and their
cars had different strengths and weaknesses to my car and, in my team, it was
just me that was really competing with them. Now I’m racing against a guy who
has the same car – we have access to exactly the same data and feedback, so it
is really hard to try and be ahead. It’s a little bit like playing poker - you
have a set of cards and the other guy is not supposed to know what you got, but
Nico and I can see each other’s cards so then it’s more difficult to beat each
Does the fact that you’re in the same team as the guy competing
against you for the Championship make it more or less challenging?
Definitely more challenging because you have to find ways to
create small margins. So what you do is bring your skills, things that you’ve
learned, things you can put into the mix, and you always have to move forward.
You can’t just be good and that will be enough, you have to keep pushing the
boundaries, because every time you take a step forward the other guy makes an
equal step so you have to keep doing it.
There’s been a focus on trying to make F1 more entertaining for
the spectator, to enable close car racing and overtaking. Do you agree?
Yes, it is definitely more entertaining for the fans to watch in
that sense. The problem is you can’t follow in F1 because the downforce of the
car behind is interrupted. What I really think we should do is have much
stickier tyres, maybe a little bit less downforce and then, perhaps, we might
be able to follow closer. But then again that’s what they had in the late ‘80s,
they had big tyres and less down-force but still couldn’t follow so I don’t
really know what the solution is. DRS enables people to get close and overtake
which is great, but sometimes DRS is all it takes to overtake at the beginning
of the straight and then you’re gone which is not so realistic. It should be
harder and more of a challenge.
Is there a driver throughout your career, not necessarily just in
Formula One but a driver that you’ve most admired for their attitude or their
approach or their talent?
I’ve always admired Ayrton Senna from a distance before I was in
the sport. But one of the best drivers I drove against was Robert Kubica, he
was truly phenomenal.
Abu Dhabi, the last race of the season has double points, which
makes it even more likely that the Driver’s Championship will go to the final
race. Having been in this situation twice before, do you think that will help
you? Mentally perhaps?
I know I’ve been there before because I’m going for my second
Championship, but it feels like I’m going for my first. It really does. It
doesn’t feel like I’ve had one already and I’ve experienced it. Every race is
different and every season is a new experience. Every Sunday you feel
different, every start you feel different. When you win a Championship, for me
it was a relief, because you worry all year, you think about it non-stop. The
only fear is failure, you know? So when you do win, you just kind of think: “Oh
thank God for that and go relax now”. It’s not all :“Yeah, yeah I won, I won!
It’s the greatest thing!”
You’re now in the summer shutdown, how important are these three
weeks just to get some rest and recuperate and recharge yourself?
When you’re in the season, it’s very difficult to switch
off. When you go into a season, you feel like you’re fit and healthy but it
really takes a toll on your body from all the travelling and races. So that
break really does help you to replenish your energy levels, get some good sleep
and just stay in one place for the whole period of time and not travel. Which
is quite restful, to be in one time zone and then just getting positive energy
from spending time with family and friends. You can’t ever measure how valuable
that is. And it’s great for the team too – they have worked so hard this season
and done a fantastic job. Now they get the chance to relax and spend some time
with their families.