Hamilton: The battle between Nico and me is fierce

Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday 25 May 2014.

Lewis Hamilton had to play second fiddle to his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the Monaco Grand Prix, weekend  which clearly irked the Briton and has added fuel to the animosity that is growing between the two contenders for the F1 World title. Hamilton spoke of his day’s graft on the streets of Monaco.

How are you? Tell us a little bit about what happened on the 56th lap? You got something in your eye?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, just through the visor…but anyway that’s not important. It was a good day and really good for the team to get a one-two.

You had [Daniel Ricciardo] right close behind. How was it? You started second and finished second and how are things with your team-mate, I think people want to know..?
LH: I had great pace, you know, obviously I felt I was very strong today but it’s a very, very difficult circuit to overtake [here]

Obviously the momentum is broken for the moment. We heard you on the radio quite a lot after the Safety Car and the pit stops, questioning and speaking about the strategy calls. Obviously you pitted together under the Safety Car. Had there been a thought that you might try to undercut Nico before that? Can you explain to us what the conversation was about?
LH: I don’t remember to be honest. I don’t. I think they saw a crash and normally under the crash we could have come in and I really should have come in but the team didn’t call us in. We really should have pitted that lap.

We have seen that there is a pretty tense situation between the two of you and we also heard comments from Lauda saying you did not want to talk and apologise. Are you going to have a pizza together, a dinner, to sort the problems, talk about it and try to get the situation back to normal.
LH: I don’t really have an answer for you there.

Niki Lauda said that in Barcelona you used an engine mode you were told not to [use] and you had to apologise to Nico for that. Do you think that that mode would have helped you win the race today?
LH: No…today we were using all the modes. In the last race it was a mode that didn’t really affect the outcome of the race. We were told that we had to stay in a certain mode. Nico did it in Bahrain and I did it in Barcelona. In this race we stuck to the strategies . . .

Yesterday you told the BBC that you might handle the situation with Nico like Senna would. What did you mean by that?
LH: I don’t know. I can’t really remember to be honest. I think it was just a joke. Obviously I didn’t.

I think you said on the radio that you had a problem with your eye in the closing stages. What happened there?
LH: I’ve never really had it before. I kept making sure my visor was as closed as possible but I had quite a bit of wind coming in. I got close to Nico at one stage and all of a sudden I got a bit of debris in my eye, or some dirt, so I was driving with one eye, which is virtually impossible to do and so through the low-speed corners I was trying to open up my visor to clear it up but it was just making it worse. Fortunately, I think with five laps to go it cleared up so I was able to stay ahead of Daniel.

It seems pretty clear to us that you feel aggrieved with the events that occurred yesterday in Qualifying. Is this it now for you? Is it gloves off in your battle with Nico? And secondly, do you feel that you are getting full and fair support from the team?
LH: Generally, there is a fierce battle between me and Nico and it will continue that way to I’m sure quite late in the season. Nico’s not had a single hiccup through the season so far. Obviously I had a car that didn’t finish in Melbourne but otherwise it’s still quite close, so I’m just going to keep my head up, keep pushing. I know the team are working hard for the both of us. The team can sometimes be in awkward positions, which they were yesterday, and their job is really to protect us both and that’s what they did.

After your victory in Barcelona, you said that Nico was faster than you in the race. Today he can even beat you. Is it a worry for you? And do you know where you should improve pace-wise.
LH: Not really. I was pretty comfortable with my pace this weekend.

What do you think was the reason why the team didn’t call you in immediately after the crash? You complained over the team radio about that.
LH: I think it’s just what we have a rule that the guy in front gets the first opportunity to pit first so I think that would be why.

How did the debrief of yesterday’s Qualifying go because as we understand, you were not in the debrief room, while Rosberg was?
LH: I was in there. I went to the toilet and Nico did his big debrief before I got there which is unusual. Usually we do it when we’re both in the same room but as I came up I did mine and fortunately the engineers had written down what Nico had said so I read it.

To clarify the situation, did you tell the BBC in this interview where you said these things with the boat or didn’t you say that?
LH: I was asked who was hungrier. I think if you ask every driver they will say that they’re the hungriest and I said that what gives me the hunger is where I grew up in comparison to where Nico grew up. You know I’ve always been striving to come and live here. I used to travel around with Nico in his Dad’s plane, I used to go to his boat, I used to go to his house, I used to have those experiences and that gave me those experiences and that gave me the desire to want that one day, which gave me the hunger. It was his Dad obviously who inspired me to be where I am today.

So you did say it?
LH: Yes, but – as Nico said – it was taken out of context a little bit.

Do you believe with a normal pit stop – not under Safety Car conditions – you would have had any chance to overtake Nico and get the lead of the race?
LH: It’s irrelevant now, but obviously with the start, we got exactly the same start…there’s only two opportunities in the race and the pit stop would have been the other one but the Safety Car came out at the perfect time for him so I didn’t have the chance there. Otherwise, that was it.

What does racing give you, is it freedom of expression, a way to express yourself, adrenalin?
LH: I’m living my dream so it gives good energy.

Subbed by AJN.