Q&A: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has had a tough week off-track in the run-up to last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, and although the MP4-24 continued to lag in the midfield pack, the 2008 world champion was still able to rescue a point on race day. He now looks back on the hectic race and looks forward to the forthcoming Chinese and Bahrain Grands Prix.
Q: A tough race for you Lewis, are you satisfied with your result in Malaysia?
Lewis Hamilton: Yes, it was a tough afternoon. In the dry, we knew our car wouldn't have the pace to run at the front - and that was clear in the opening laps when we didn't have the downforce to match the frontrunners, and we also knew that he lack of downforce would also have affected us in the rain too. I'm satisfied that I pushed hard for the whole race, and even though seventh isn't the greatest reward, it shows that the team never gives up and that we are still capable of scoring decent results.
Q: How were things going when the track was dry?
LH: I pushed very hard in those opening laps. I had a very heavy fuel load, so I was quite pleased that I was able to stay in touch with some of the lighter cars, who were already faster than me. But I paid a price for that as my rear tires started to go off and I wasn't able to keep guys like Vettel behind me. I could see the skies starting to darken so I knew the rain was coming - it was just a question of when?
Q: Did you feel the team made the right choice on tires?
LH: The race was turning into a lottery, so you always need a little bit of luck in those conditions, but I think we played it pretty well. Perhaps the first tire change, when we switched to full-wets, was the wrong choice - and those tires went off so quickly that I had no choice other than to change to intermediates - but the other two stops were pretty straightforward. More often than not, the team makes the right decisions and our strategy was good - we were fuelled to the end. If we'd restarted, we'd have been in a good position for sure.
Q: How difficult was it to drive on the track when the rain started falling heavily?
LH: It was undriveable. I got on the radio and told the team how bad it was - there was standing water and aquaplaning everywhere. It was unbelievable and very dangerous. In fact, I think they were the most dangerous conditions I've ever raced in.
Q: What were you discussing with Mark Webber when he came over to see you on the grid after the red flag?
LH: I had been racing quite closely with Mark when the rain really started to fall. We were both driving extremely cautiously and were taking care not to touch each other. He came over to explain that to me and we both talked about the conditions - at that moment, we both agree there was too much standing water to continue.
Q: Did you want the race to be restarted?
LH: When you're a racer, and when you're presented with an opportunity to perhaps score a better result than the car is currently able to deliver, then you are always keen to get back on the track. Yesterday, I was looking forward to a restart, and the race had certainly lifted, but it was pretty clear that the daylight was fading - and that was an additional element for the race organizers to consider. It was a pretty tough decision for them, but it was getting difficult to drive in those conditions so it was the right decision to stop.
Q: Finally, are you optimistic about the team's form in the forthcoming races - particularly in China and Bahrain?
LH: I hope we make some improvements. The engineers are optimistic that we have some good improvements in the pipeline for the next race, but we've got a huge amount of distance to cover so it will be tough.