Hamilton: "We’ll give it our very best shot" Lewis Hamilton isn't having the easiest season of all this year. The youngster has made quite some mistakes and of course the press is criticizing him for that. Hamilton is however confident towards his home race and he believes that he still has a shot at winning the championship title in 2008.
Lewis, it seems that you have taken a very different route into your Formula 1 career. Your first season was in champion style, what makes this year so different to last year?
“2007 was a fantastic year for me, and an amazing experience. This year, I am only into my second season of Formula 1 but I am now the longest serving race driver at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, with a year’s more experience here than Heikki. With this comes the additional pressure from within myself to do my best for the team, even though I am still on a huge learning curve. In many ways, it is like having a rookie season all over again!”
David Coulthard has put it this way: in your first year it’s easy to be cool because you don’t think – you just drive. When the thinking sets in the easiness gets lost. Do you experience something in this kind?
“For me, the easiest place to be during a grand prix weekend is in the car: nothing else matters when you’re out on the track. But it’s not easy to separate the job into just thinking and driving: to win in Formula 1 requires a whole range of skills and abilities – and you’re always thinking about how to maximize everything, even when you’re away from the racetrack. But I should perhaps emphasize that driving is the greatest part of my job – it’s the reason we all become grand prix drivers and I’m sure it’s the one element that keeps us all coming back for more.”
Heading to your home Grand Prix, how do your emotions this year differ from those 12 months ago?
“To be honest, I don’t feel any different. I love racing at Silverstone and look forward to the Santander British Grand Prix for two reasons: firstly, it’s my home race and it has a special place in my heart – it’s awesome to get so much support from the fans and to see the flags and banners in the grandstands. Secondly, it’s just an amazing track – some of the corners are incredibly fast, it’s the kind of place where you really should go and watch a Formula 1 car at the limit. I tested at Silverstone on Thursday and it brought it all back – the fans, the support and the track itself. The Santander British Grand Prix will be one of the highlights of my year and I hope I can make it special. Having said that, our competitors will be trying every bit as hard as we will, and I have great respect for them. So all I can say is that we’ll give it our very best shot.”
What developments are you testing this week and what changes can we expect to see on the car for the Silverstone race? Will they be enough to catch Ferrari?
“We’re always bringing new parts to the test and Silverstone was no different. Heikki was in the car for two days and I only jumped in for the final day, but I got to try out some promising new aero upgrades and some improvements to the fuel and lubricants. They’re only little things, but that’s where you can make a difference. Ferrari will be strong, but not unbeatable – we’ve got a great package, we’ve worked hard on performance in high-speed corners and I’m confident ahead of the race.”
It has been said that in winning a world championship you can make one mistake, maybe two at most. Does that mean your hopes are over for 2008?
“No, I think that this year’s title race is really close – probably even closer than last year’s. And there’s no sign that it’s getting any easier. There isn’t one driver who’s comfortably ahead; I’ve had a few no-scores but so also have the two Ferrari drivers. I think consistency is going to be important as we head into the second half of the season, but I’m only 10 points behind Massa and the maths is clear: you can make that up in a single race if all the cards fall in the right way.”
Kimi Raikkonen made up a bigger points deficit to win last year’s title. Do you take heart from that and do you think you can do the same?
“Kimi was 17 points behind with two races to go last year. The fact that he not only came back but also won the title tells you a lot about how unpredictable this sport can be. You can never take anything for granted. And that’s why I’m still confident and focused. We’ve got 10 races remaining, 100 points – it’s all to play for; and I’m ready for it.”