Lewis Hamilton delivered a scintillating lap to claim pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, but 24 hours later – in the race – he lacked the extra edge to fight off winner Sebastian Vettel and second placed Fernando Alonso. Nevertheless the Mercedes driver finished third and kept his title chances alive. He spoke after the race.
That’s your 54th podium, that equals you with Niki Lauda who is one of the senior management at the Mercedes grand prix team. Does that statistic mean anything to you and what do these points mean for you this afternoon?
Lewis Hamilton: We had a tough race, these guys were a little bit faster than us but the team did a great job throughout the weekend and I’m really happy with the results. Of course to be put in the same sentence as someone as legendary as Niki is a real privilege. I’m happy with the result we had, I’m glad to see so many great fans here this weekend. They made the weekend.
Once again we heard you on the team radio saying you were taking absolutely everything out of the car and the tyres. You went off into the summer break as the victor, you’ve come on a roll of four pole positions. Looking ahead to the next grand prix, what do you think you’ve learnt from this Belgian race?
LH: I came in this weekend and when we started I felt that we perhaps didn’t have as good a package as these two here. I think we’ll go away after this weekend, we’ll try and see if we can improve for Monza. But definitely when we get to Singapore, I think we’ll have a much better chance there.
Great getaway from pole into the first corner but describe the remainder of that first part of that first lap from your perspective.
LH: It was not particularly exciting or anything. It was pretty straightforward. Half-decent start and I felt like I got a good exit out of turn one but these guys… Sebastian just caught me massively, particularly through Eau Rouge. There was no defending really. I could only move once, so I moved once and just had to watch him glide by. After that it was very, very difficult to hold onto him. And also when Fernando came by, particularly down the straights, he was just pulling away.
At one point on the radio you were saying “I’m getting everything I can out of the car.” Obviously finishing around 27 seconds behind at the end of the race. Is that a concern for you, given the way you translated pole to victory before the summer break?
LH: Not really. I think every year you come here – here and Monza – you come with a new package, new front and particularly rear wing and sometimes you hit the nail on the head and sometimes you don’t. I think we’ve done a decent job but obviously these guys have done a slightly better job. Whether or not we can make an adjustment before the next race, we’ll wait and see but I think more importantly we’ll be back to being very competitive – or more competitive when we get to Singapore.
After being on pole position, is this more of less what you expected in the race or did you expect to be closer to Red Bull?
LH: I think yesterday I said that I don’t think we generally have the same pace as these guys, or at least, not necessarily the Ferraris but more so the Red Bulls. But they were both too fast for us today. It’s the best we could have done. Yesterday, the weather helped us to get up to where we were. At the end of the day, we just need to work a little bit harder. I think we can do a better job, hopefully for Monza.