Full transcript from the top three press conference after the Turkish Grand Prix, Round 14 of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship, at Istanbul Park.
Featuring and newly crowned 2020 F1 World Champion, for a record-equalling seventh time, as well as Sunday’s race-winner Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), second-placed, Sergio Perez (Racing Point) and third-placed Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari).
Track interviews conducted by Martin Brundle
Q: Sebastian, welcome back to the podium. What a race. Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, it was quite intense, quite long, but good fun. I had a really good opening lap and I think I found myself already in P4 I was quite happy on the extremes. Then we switched to inters. It was a bit more difficult in the beginning and only towards the end I started to find the pace again. Obviously it was very intense in the last lap and yeah, a bit of a surprise to snatch the podium in the end but certainly very happy. It was a really enjoyable race in very tricky conditions.
Q: You were quick all the way through but just take us through those last few corners where you were able to snatch that podium? SV: Well, I saw that Charles was quite close to Sergio and I heard that Sergio was struggling with his tyre, so the laps before I was already chasing them down and then I could see them fight and as soon as I saw Charles locking up I saw that there was an opportunity for me. It was very close too with Sergio; he had nothing left on his tyres.
Q: Were there any thoughts in the closing stages, “I’m going in for in for dry tyres, give it a gamble?” SV: Yes, all the time. Twenty laps to go I was thinking about dry tyres, because the circuit was constant, the tyres anyway were worn and ultimately we had slicks. I think it was just a matter of nobody dared to put them on. There was some rain forecast at the end that didn’t come, so I would have really like to have put them on as I think that would have been a chance to win but equally happy with third.
Q: A day for wise heads and talking about a wise head and a lot of experience, Sergio Pérez, what a brilliant drive? You held onto those tyres from lap 10! Sergio Perez: Yeah, that was key really. I told my team on the radio, “I think one more lap on those tyres, I think they would have exploded”. The vibrations were extremely bad towards the end. But I think it also made our race, looking after them in the beginning, towards the end when we had drying conditions. I think the team did a fantastic job in terms of strategy and I think Lewis today was extremely strong and towards the end we died but we managed to get a good result.
Q: Did you have any big moments, shocks or scares during the race? SP: Yeah, a little one; one with Max. I couldn’t see anything in my mirrors. My mirrors were full of fog. My engineer was telling me the gaps and so on. All of a sudden I saw Max running wide and he disappeared and yeah, the other one was with Charles. I wasn’t aware that he was so close to me. So in the final lap it was a pretty good battle with him. He overtook me into Turn 9 and then I overtook him back into 11. It was a chaotic race but a strong result for us.
Q: It’s a fantastic leaving present for the team. A few more races to go of course but this is such an advert for you, for your skills, your speed, for the future. You don’t have a seat on the grid next year yet. SP: Yeah, well, I think as always you have to be delivering weekend after weekend and you are only as good as your last race, so it’s important to finish on a high. The rest is not in my hands.
Q: Lewis, the mark of a great sport sporting champion is to win on the days when you are maybe not the fastest or the strongest or don’t have the best equipment. You’ve come through the pack today to become a seven-time world champion with a true champion’s drive. Lewis Hamilton: Thank you, I’m a bit lost for words. Naturally, I have to start with saying such a huge thank you to all the guys here and all the guys back at the factory, both our factories, and all our partners for enabling us and giving us this opportunity. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t join this team and the journey we have been on has been monumental. I’m so proud of them. I want to also say a big thank you to team LH for sticking with me all these years and uh… then to my family you know. We dreamed of this when were young, when I was young, when we were watching the grands prix and this is way, way beyond our dreams. It’s so important for kids out there to hopefully see this and know that… don’t listen to anybody that tells you you can’t achieve something. Dream the impossible and speak it into existence. You’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to chase it and you’ve got to never give up and never doubt yourself.
Q: You have equalled the great Michael Schumacher with seven world titles. That was a drive Michael Schumacher or any of the truly great drives in our 70-year history would have been proud of? LH: Thank you. We knew coming here it was already such a difficult weekend. We weren’t massively disappointed with our qualifying position. We knew that we were kind of on the back foot and we did the best we could. But then we learned a lot. This is what we do as a team. There is no blame game. We hash it out. We do hash it out. We continue to try to improve our communication so that we can make moves forwards. We don’t always get everything perfect. We had that small moment at the beginning of the race with the new tyres and then I couldn’t get past Seb for a while. At that point I could see Albon pulling away and I though “Jesus, this race is falling through my fingers”. But I just kept my head down and kept believing that I would eventually just pick up pace of some sort at some stage. And that’s what I did.
Q: A few laps in you were over a pit stop behind the leaders, you were nowhere. At which point did you think: “I could win this”? LH: There was a point at which Seb was pulling away from me and I couldn’t figure out at the time what it was. I was checking my temperatures. I didn’t know if it was because the tyres were overheating or they were too cold. They went through a drier patch. I went through the real rough phase of the graining on the tyres and then it started to come back, the grip started to come back. The track was drying in some areas and I was improving my driving lines the whole way through the race and I started to pick up pace. And then Seb pitted and for me I knew that wasn’t the right choice personally and so I decided to stay out and as the tyres got more and more slick that’s exactly what you needed. Fortunately that intermediate tyre holds temperature. If I went out on new slicks I wouldn’t have made it round.
Q: Your tyres are completely slick, they are naked, they are bald. You overruled the team in the end, you didn’t fancy splashing down a wet pit lane. You though you could get it to the end. LH: Well, you remember I lost the world championship in the pit lane and I learned my lesson from 2007 that’s for sure. I felt like I really had it under control and the grip was feeling good and I was going to deal with the rain if it dropped… oh wow.
Q: The ninth podium of your career and your first since Baku in 2018; just how much pleasure did this one give you? Sergio Perez: A lot, you know, especially coming from the last race where we really missed it on the strategy, I think also for the team, they deserved this one. We’ve been so close in Austria, race two, in Imola. Now it’s a great result for the team and still we’re so close to losing it all with the Ferraris coming back at us very strongly. Holding onto those tyres was a big challenge and I think it was about time to end the race for us and a great result, a lot of points for the team and yeah, I’m please with that.
Q: And Checo, your teammate stopped for a new set of intermediate tyres. Were you tempted to do the same? SP: Yeah, I think at the time, especially when everyone was stopping it would have made sense, early on. I got the feedback that he – my teammate – grained the tyres straightaway, so the team decided to keep me out a bit longer and then we, as the race panned out, we basically carried on with that set to the end.
Q: Sebastian, what a tremendous race for you this afternoon, exciting, right to the end, but can we go back to the beginning first of all and can you tell us about that start from 11th to 3rd at one point, I think? Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, yeah it was a good start. I think I just anticipated it to be very, very slippery, off the line. Made up a few places already there and then yeah, I wasn’t one of the ones who tried everything into turn one and obviously there was a Renault that spun, which I think was Daniel, I’m not sure. Was it Esteban? Alright, there was a Renault that spun and yeah, I think everybody who was in that group obviously was back to the outside and I could just snatch the inside line and make up a lot of ground. Then I think it was good to have clear track ahead and benefit from that at the beginning of the race. When we then pitted for inters, I think it took a little bit too long for us to get into the groove. I lost a couple of positions which then later on I was catching up the field again. Yeah, I had a good battle at that stage with Lewis for a couple of laps and we pitted again, the tyres then grained very quickly and I think in that part of the race maybe I was too conservative, otherwise I could have been even better and maybe less exciting at the end but better in terms of positioning but yeah, nevertheless, happy. Obviously I was able to close the gap towards the end. Sergio was right on the limit, I don’t think he had anything… not even another lap left in his tyres so it was really close. Also across the line I was hoping for a benefit on traction but he just saved it over the line. Obviously Charles made the mistake and then it was very close for the three of us. It was a fun afternoon.
Q: After a difficult day yesterday, for both Ferrari drivers, how surprised were you by the pace of the car today? SV: Well, yesterday we mostly struggled on the extreme wets. I think today was a little bit better but still on the extreme wets was probably a weakness. On the inters we were a little bit better, as I said, maybe I could have done a bit better by being more aggressive on that tyre, especially in the mid part of the race, but yeah, I was also very keen towards to put dry tyres. Obviously nobody dared to do it so given that we were in a good position looking for good points, I can see that we wanted to hang on to this, plus, on the other hand, we had rain forecast for the last lap so yeah, otherwise I think… I don’t know. I’m still thinking back and thinking maybe I should have dared to put dry tyres because the track, at one point, was sort of dry and still damp in other places but it was stable and the tyres that we had on, the intermediates, Sergio’s tyres, our tyres I think they were all pretty worn down to nothing, even Lewis’s tyres, pretty much like a slick and in that case a slick would be faster but would, could, should. We didn’t dare to do it; we got a podium so not much we could have got more from that race.
Q: Seb, your first podium of the year, a difficult year, for you at Ferrari. Just how good does it feel to be back at the sharp end? SV: Well it has been a difficult year. I think qualifying has been the Achilles heel this year and the races obviously have been largely defined by being stuck in the pack. I think it’s been a while that I’ve been racing in the midfield, it’s very, very close and even though you have a better pace, sometimes you can’t really show so it’s tough but I think we look forward to the last couple of races and hopefully for improvements. This weekend, I think the conditions made the biggest difference; first of all, the slippery track, secondly the wet conditions but yeah, I’m looking forward to trying to squeeze out anything that there is to squeeze in the last races to finish as high up as possible for myself and also for the team.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Sebastian, regarding the difference in pace between Saturday and Sunday, you mentioned the extreme wets being a particular problem yesterday, because you were quite strong at the very beginning of the race. Was it a case of because of doing lap after lap after lap and building that crucial tyre temperature, whereas qualifying was stop-start and that’s where you’d lose it? SV: Well obviously we were not allowed to change anything from yesterday so yeah, I think indeed the fact there was also less water than yesterday. I mean the lap times were significantly faster; we started off with 1m 58s, 56s and finished off around 1m 50s whereas yesterday we qualified quite a bit slower… we had a lot more water on the track so obviously the tyres cooled down more. I think that probably made the biggest difference. Yeah, I think we probably collected some good data that helped in case there is extreme et conditions again. Still, if you look at Sergio and Lance in the beginning, in particularly, they were flying compared to us and opening a gap quickly to ten seconds, so there’s still something to learn on the extremes.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) To Sergio and Seb, because for both of you this result represents something quite significant in your respective seasons. I think you’re the eleventh and 12th drivers to score a podium in what’s been quite a varied campaign. Checo, for you, it nudges you ever closer to what’s almost certainly going to be your best ever season in Formula 1, so just wondering just how high a level do you think you’re performing, at the moment? Is it the best in you F1 career? And Seb, do you think that this podium shows that even after a difficult season, you’re still capable of being the quality of driver that won four World titles and so many races? SP: Well, I think from my side it’s been a good season but also Formula 1, it’s so much related to your car’s potential. I think I’ve had very good seasons in the past but were not seen as a good year because of the car potential. I was finishing seventh in the championship, a couple of times eighth, but I was still doing a good job, a tremendous job. I think right now I’m in a very good level in my career, I think probably at my peak in terms of experience, understanding, communication-wise with the team as well. I’ve been awhile with the team so that also helps. And yeah, I think the season has been a bit up and down due to a lot of things, circumstances, some on track, some off track but still we’re getting our season on track and I’m sure this podium will helps us to finish the last few races on a high. SV: Well I’m a bit shocked by the way you phrased your question there. I don’t think… well, F1 is a very fast living world. We drive the fastest cars to you always get judged by your last race. I’ve said that we had a difficult season, there’s been moments where certainly I haven’t been at the top of my game but I don’t doubt that I can do a good job in the car and don’t feel that anything has changed, so bit surprised. But thank you.
Q: (Sandor Meszaros – Autosport es Formula Magazine) Seb, can you please summarise how was the work over this weekend under the guidance Laurent Mekies? SV: Well, I think the team is well aware of all the motions it needs to go through so yeah, I think it’s quite bad… I think we scored probably the most points this year for us and Mattia wasn’t here! Yeah, if the next race we don’t score as many points we try again to leave him at home! No, I don’t think it’s related to that. I don’t believe in this kind of stuff. I’ve worked with Laurent already 12 and 13 years ago and I think we has come a long way, I have come a long way and yeah, he does take care of us with Mattia not being here. I think he’s a capable guy and as I said, it’s not only down to him or down to Mattia, in the end it’s a team effort. I think Sergio can tell the same thing. There’s so many people, so many different links that have to come together to have a good weekend and obviously this weekend we benefit from the conditions, probably the surface and also the wet conditions but yeah, we hope to have good races also the next three.
Q (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Checo, can you talk us through the laps when you were pretty close behind your teammate because it was a strange situation: you were both fighting for the victory at that point? You were leading your teammate, he is staying, did you push him to that pit stop because you were faster at that point and how were the conversations with the pit at that time? SP: Well, at that point it was all about surviving on those inters. We were a bit stuck. We were expecting some more rain towards the end of the race and at the same time we were suffering quite a bit with the inters. We were going through the graining phase and I was able to control it after that. When he pitted, I was also (thinking of ) the idea of trying another set because my set was pretty worn out but then the team informed me that he grained straight away and the pace was not coming so we decided to stay out but in hindsight, probably, even how much we suffered in the final laps, we probably could have pitted for another set.
Q: (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Seb, the BBC have reported that by his car, you told Lewis ‘you’re the greatest F1 driver ever.’ Is this right or what did you say, and do you believe Lewis is now the greatest of all time? SV: Well, I told him it’s very special for us because we can witness history being made today. I think he is greatest of our era for sure. I think it’s always difficult to compare… how can you possibly compare Fangio, Stirling Moss to our generation? You can’t. Maybe we would be useless because we would all be shitting ourselves in those cars. Maybe they would be useless in our cars because they’re way too fast. Who know? But it doesn’t matter, I think every era has its driver or its drivers and Lewis is certainly the greatest of our era. To me, certainly emotionally, Michael will always be the most… the greatest driver but there’s no doubt that Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved. He’s equalled the championships, he’s won more races, he has a lot more pole positions so I think he’s done everything you can ask for. I think today is the best proof. It’s a difficult race, a very difficult race to stay on track and two hours long and probably, if we’re honest, it wasn’t his race to win and he still won it, so I think, once again, he managed to pull out something special out of that bag and therefore I think he deserves everything he has achieved.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Seb, on Charles’s team radio, when he went across the start/finish line, we could hear ‘I did a shit job’ I think five times in a row. Just how important for the dynamics between you two was this last corner? SV: Probably irrelevant, to be honest, I think. Turkey is a special place for me because it’s where everything started. It’s probably not where everything ends but still I think, looking back to many many years ago, I think having Charles as a teammate, I often see myself in him as well. He’s a lot younger, he’s very quick and I think the fact that – I haven’t had the chance to talk to him yet – but I will tell him later that being on the podium or not actually is a bit irrelevant for him because he has so many years ahead of him and so many podiums to come, which I’m sure of, so… It’s right that he is angry, he did a mistake and lost the podium that way but as I said, in the big picture probably irrelevant for him. I think I’m mature enough, I never let this kind of stuff really heat up and get between us. I’m happy for anything that he achieves and will achieve in the future because he’s a good kid but yeah, obviously it was a very tough race and I think all of, we were very close to losing it complete at various stages in the race. Obviously it’s extra painful when it happens in the last lap.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Checo, obviously when you’ve got cars one and three on the grid as you were yesterday, coming up for today, there’s always talk of team orders of some type. Was there talk of team orders in your instance? Did they favour, did they favour the other driver? What was the discussion? SP: No, it was basically about… we are in a very fight for third in the Constructors and that’s really what matters to us, so it was all about getting both cars as high as possible. I think the lead car at the time was Lance and at that time, we thought the best was to stop and that didn’t work out for him but in the end we managed to score good points. We outscored our competition and there’s still three very important races for us in the championship.
Q: Well Lewis, a wonderful race today, a wonderful season in 2020, the floor is yours. What would like to say. How do you sum it all up? LH: Honestly I think… My dad always used to tell me to do my talking on the track, so I don’t really have a huge amount to say. The performance hopefully shows what I’m capable of and what we could all do together. In the sense of young kids out there it’s important for them to see. I dreamt this when I was five years old, to be here in Formula 1 and it’s so important to hold onto your dreams, to dream big, for all of us, it doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s taken a long time to get here but I’m forever grateful to the guys that have helped me. My team, for believing in me, Ron, for taking me on when I was a kid, Mercedes, who continued to support me all the way from 13 years old to today. Particularly to my family, you know. So grateful to them. I hope they are celebrating.
Q: You clinched the title today with a fabulous victory. Would you say this was one of your finest wins? LH: I’ve been racing a long time, so it’s difficult to compare! I would say that generally every race fells like it’s the first. It’s unique. I don’t compare any race to any other race. I’m always in a different place in life, so I like to say they are all unique in their own way. I think for sure, this one felt like a very, very complete day on track, under the toughest circumstances. With this track and the new surface here, you see people who are professional drives, incredible drivers, you saw them losing control today, that’s how slippery and difficult the conditions were. This was a big test for me because you know, in the rain, you know what you normally do in the rain, but this is different, in the sense that this is ice! I don’t remember having an ice race before. I feel like I achieved something different today. For sure I know that not everyone expected that. I definitely didn’t expect that, but I was hopeful that I was going to move forwards. I got a good start, lost position on the first lap with those new tyres, but the more I race, the more I feel like I’m getting better. I think I’m understanding myself more. I know what I want from the car. I know what buttons to push. During a race I’m constantly tweaking my driving style. It’s like trying to find the right numbers to put together to be able to get you through the corners in a way that is faster than everyone else. That mathematics, that algorithm never seems to stop. It’s always a challenge from lap to lap and I think today I was really mastering it, at least from halfway in the race.
Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) Lewis, many congratulations. You mentioned your family and I know you are very close to your dad and your family. Have you had a chance to speak to them and if you have what have you said to them and what did they say to you? LH: I haven’t had a chance to speak to anybody, unfortunately. I literally just got my phone as I changed and there are a lot of message there that I haven’t opened yet. My dad… my family have all been supportive before the race. My mum message me before the race but I didn’t have a chance to open it because I was rushing to get in the car. I know I have so much support, particularly from my family even if we don’t talk. But I hope that they are feeling fulfilled. My parents sacrificed so much for me to be here and I never take that for granted. The things that we faced, the challenges that we faced and the dream that we had, and all the schools and people saying that we wouldn’t be where we are today, hopefully we’ve earned the respect, hopefully I’ve earned respect today. There is more to do. This is a world championship and it’s the pinnacle of my life so far, but there is a much bigger win that we all need to work together towards and that’s pushing for equality and that’s pushing for equal opportunities for all these kids that are out there so we can create a better future but that’s going to take us all doing it together.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Congratulations Lewis please. The manner of the way you sealed the title today was incredibly impressive, one of you best wins and certainly one of your best wins with Mercedes. At what point today did it feel like it was coming towards you and just how satisfying is it to have won the title with that kind of crushing performance? LH: Sorry, you saying “won the title”, it just hasn’t sunk in yet exactly. Obviously I got a really good start and then I lost position. I avoided getting a penalty going around the bollard. I struggled behind everybody. I know everyone was struggling but I was struggling behind that group of cars that was ahead of me. Then, we saw people even like Max, who is great in the wet, spin and lose control and have to do extra stops. I was behind Seb and for a moment I was thinking I might get past him but then me and him were having this battle and it was so frustrating not to be able to get past him. But also I was thinking, “you know what, Seb has had the toughest year, I would say arguably perhaps in his whole career” and I just thought he was driving so well, but at the same time I was like, “he’s doing so good, but dammit, he’s in the way, the guys up ahead are getting away!” And then he started pulling away from me and I think at that point I could definitely see the win seeping away. I looked at my dash and I was on lap 30 or something like that and then I was like, “no, there’s a long, long way to go and anything can happen, so just keep your head down, keep going, keep pushing”. All of a sudden I found a few things that improved the handling of the car and I started getting around in much quicker laps and I started to close on Seb, and then he pitted. And I knew, for me, I was like: “There’s no way you guys are pulling me in. These tyres aren’t done and the track is in this progressive state and it’s not going to dry up fully by the end of the race.” So I knew all these things from all these experiences I’ve ever had so I was able to use history, to use past experience to deliever those laps I was doing afterwards. And as soon as I could see the Force Indias ahead I knew that it’s game time. You’ve just got to keep your head, keep your cool and don’t make mistakes.”
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Congratulations Lewis on a great drive and a great achievement. You’ve made lots of powerful statements against racism this year but you becoming the most successful racing driver ever is possibly the most powerful of all. What does that mean to you – and what message to you think that sends out to the world? LH: It’s obviously no secret that I’ve really walked this sport alone: the only black person here, or the only person of colour here and it’s a really interesting point. The fact is that as I’m bi-racial, whilst it’s the term of the black driver here, I’m bi-racial and I think this colourism that perhaps people should perhaps read about. I think that, hopefully, shows, when I was younger, I didn’t have anybody in the sport that looked like me and, so, you know, it was easy to think that that’s not possible to get there, because nobody of your colour has ever been there, you don’t see anybody on TV, any black people on TV that are in Formula 1, so… but I think hopefully this sends a message to the kids that are watching. Hopefully they’ve seen that performance today and hopefully they can see that it doesn’t matter where you come from, I think whatever your background, I think it’s so important to you to dream big. And if you are looking at places, industries that you don’t see someone of the same background as you, or the same ethnicity as you, or with the same religion, create your own path. Because that’s what we did. That’s what I’ve been able to do. And it’s been so tough. Tough doesn’t even describe how hard it’s been. I hope that sends that message. That’s the most important message for kids: to dream as big as possible and not give up, y’know?
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Congratulations Lewis. Couple of questions actually. First thing I’d like to do is just take you back to when you finished the race. You seemed to have an emotional moment. I wondered if you could explain what was going through your head at that time? Secondly, with regards to this season as a whole. It’s been very challenging for everyone… LH: Don’t give me too many questions at once! I’m struggling to take the one in! Very rarely to do ever lose control of my emotions and I think those last few laps, I remember those last few laps and obviously we’re having a discussion whether we’re going to pit. I was just telling myself, ‘keep it together Lewis, you’ve got this’. I could feel it getting closer and also knowing that, if I finish where I’m finishing right now, that I’ve got this championship. So, all of these emotions were running through me, and I was trying to stop it because I was thinking about my whole career, y’know? From when I was five, when I drove in the go-kart, from when we’ve won our first British Championship, driving home with my Dad, singing ‘We Are the Champions’, and dreaming of being here – it is right there, minutes away and that was a lot to take in. When I came across the line, it really hit me and I just burst into tears, I think. That whole in-lap. And then I really just couldn’t get out of the car because I just couldn’t believe it. I just… for me, I’ve been very strong but I couldn’t have done it without the great man behind me, my Dad, who, on the days when I didn’t think I was good enough, or wasn’t going to do well enough, he stood me up and kept me going. So, I was thinking of him, I was thinking of my Mum, I was thinking of my step-mother Linda, my brother, who all stood by me through thick and thin. I didn’t want the visor to come up and for people to see tears flowing and all of that stuff – because I had always said that I would never let you see me cry. I remember watching other drivers in the past crying and I was like” ‘I am not going to do that’ – but it was too much.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, just wondered, you touched on staying with the team. Now’s the time, I guess, to start talking about those negotiations and getting that new deal done, I guess? LH: Yeah. Definitely it’s something that we do need to get onto and y’know, I think, I just always think, through the year just that I’ve got a job to do, I’ve got a contract in place, I don’t feel like I should add pressure. It has to be organic and not something that’s forced. So, I thought let’s put it to… I bet on myself. Naturally there are days when you think ‘what happens if you start making mistakes? What happens if you get worse all of a sudden, you don’t put in these great performances? Does your value decrease? Does your bargaining power decrease? Does your reputation go off a cliff? I know there’s scenarios in life where you’re like ‘let’s sign up real quick’, so you guarantee your future, and for me, I’ve bet on myself. I do the work. I know myself better than anyone and I know what I can do, and I know how to do it. Better than ever. And so, yeah, I wanted to put it aside and wait until the job is done. So, probably over these next weeks – we’ve got three weeks in the Middle East – so, now it’s a bit more chilled but I still have three races ahead of me that I want to win. It’s not done but we will get it done, I’m sure.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Congratulations for a brilliant achievement. Back in the UK there’s a growing feeling that you should now be knighted for what you’re doing, both on and off the track. We’ve seen Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, others knighted in recent times. So I guess, what would it mean to you to receive such an accolade – and obviously you spoke about just getting started. Can we see Lewis Hamilton racing in Formula 1 in his forties? LH: I don’t think I’ll be here in my forties but, y’know, still, I’m only 35. I feel young and fresh. Every year we talk about this and I naturally get the questions and I don’t really have anything different to say, compared to before. I think when I think about that honour, I think about people like my grandad who served in the war, I think about Sir Captain Tom who got knighted and waited a hundred years for that incredible honour. The people that are running hospitals, the nurses and doctors who are saving lives during the hardest time ever. I think about those unsung heroes and I don’t look at myself as an unsung hero. I’ve not saved anybody. It is an incredible honour that a small group of people have had bestowed upon them. All I can say is that standing today, and hearing the national anthem I’m very, very proud. I am a very proud Brit and that, as I said before, this really is like the most special moment to be able to represent… to be up there representing a nation. Having the flag over your head, over number one, that is such an incredible honour. That’s really all I have to say about it. It’s not something that I think about, it’s not something that I… I’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s more work to do here in this sport. As I said, we’ve got… I think this year we’ve had this awakening and I think people hopefully are starting to be held accountable and holding themselves accountable and realising that’s actually not a really bad thing. It just means we’ve got to work harder, we’ve got to not be so stubborn, open our minds up and educate ourselves a bit better so we can push for a more equal world. I’m not going to stop fighting for that. And then part-time maybe I’ll keep racing for a little while!
Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Congratulations Lewis, incredible achievement. To follow up on what Scott asked earlier, the manner you achieved this today, with the win and I think Seb put it pretty nice, he said “it wasn’t your race to win today.” You’re the most successful driver in Formula One history but there are still a lot of critics out there and always say you’re just winning because you have the best car. Today you showed it’s not the case. How important is that for you? LH: Yeah. I want more of these weekends. More tricky conditions like this. The more opportunities like this, the more I’m able to show what I’m able to do. And I think today hopefully you can see… I think I deserve my respect. I think I have that with my peers. I think they can see how hard… they will know how hard today is, particularly that it is not a car thing. However, I couldn’t have done this without that amazing group of people behind me – but there is another great driver who is alongside me, who has the same car who obviously didn’t finish where I finished. I do notice that there are these interesting comments from past drivers, particularly. I really, really promise you, and hope that I stand by my word, when I stop in ten, 20 years from now and look back, I want to be embracing and encouraging the next youngsters that are here, whether it’s Lando, whether its George, whoever it may be, whether it’s Max. I know how hard it is to do the job and I know how this world works. Of course you have to have a good team and of course you have to have a great car. There is no driver that’s ever won – really won – the Championship in the past without it. It goes back the same all the way down to karting. You’ve got to have the right equipment. I remember my first championship. I raced and the kid that won was on rocket engines, which Jenson Button’s Dad had tuned. Those engines were real rockets. Compared to the cheap, crappy engine that I had which was, y’know, fifth hand, there was no way I could keep up with these kids, and I remember that one weekend he was moving on to… Kimbolton in 1992, 1993, and he was moving on to the next class, he was selling on these engines. I remember my Dad had to re-mortage the house to get this £2000 engine – but what we did that day was me and this kid, who’d been winning everything, we put his other engine that I was going to buy, that we were looking to buy, in my car and I was ahead of him all the time on track. So, of course, you’ve got to have the equipment, of course you’ve got to have it and that’s something that will always be in this sport. But then it’s also what you do with it that really also counts – and hopefully you can see that today.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Congratulations Lewis on winning the Championship. I want to go back to something you said earlier about being in the race when you were on the Inters and you found things that helped improve the handling. I’m sure that might be a closely-guarded secret but can you just explain a little bit of what that meant. And also, you’ve referenced in the past learning from losing the 2007 title in the pitlane in similar conditions to today when the tyres were wearing down. How did you avoid that today and how did the lessons of the past help you as well? LH: What I’m learning as I get older is to, most often, my gut feeling is right. And most often, like intuition, the first thought that I have is usually the right one, choice-wise, and so I’m learning not to question myself. So you saw today, back in 2007, I was a rookie. I was massively skilled but didn’t have the knowledge, didn’t have the experience to be able to lead the team, to tell them what was needed. If I knew what I knew now, I’d say ‘guys, I have to come in, I’m coming in.’ I didn’t know at the time I could tell my team that that was the case. I was still learning what I could and could not do. There was a lot of… among the success there was still doubt there every now and then. That’s not evident today in the Lewis that you see today. I think, as you saw, I was pretty certain I could get to the end. With, I think 18 laps to the end, I was thinking ‘I’m going to try and take this all the way’ but I started getting vibrations in my tyres, so I was constantly looking at my tyres and hoping that they… looking out for that bald tyre that I had in 2007 but I couldn’t see, again, in my mirrors, just like 2007. I couldn’t see the tread and whether or not it had gone through to that level. So that’s why I was asking the team, and so I was having to save the tyres through the high speed, trying to not kill them but keeping temperature up was really key. So that’s brake balance, that’s how you use them on the exit of the corners. It’s the lines that you have to navigate to take – there was a lot of wet patches still out there. And as soon as you touch that, you’re off. So, the key today was really just keeping my wits about me. As I said, learning as I went, and I was just chipping away again, getting faster and faster and more and more confident as I went on.