Q&A Hamilton says McLaren has stepped forward
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton ruled the roost in Malaysia on Friday, setting the pace in both the morning and afternoon practice sessions. But while he’s confident his MP4-25 is performing well around the Sepang circuit, Hamilton believes there’s more work to do if he wants to clinch pole position on Saturday afternoon…
Q: Lewis, you were quite frustrated about the team’s strategy decision during the Australian Grand Prix…
Lewis Hamilton: I think the situation is understood. We sat down together afterwards. I went back to the garage and was happy for the guys. To see them all in the red (victory) t-shirts was a great feeling. Whether I win or my team mate wins, it’s a great feeling, because that is what we work so hard to get. It is the one special thing the team gets to experience during a race weekend. We make split-second decisions and we are also still trying to understand how long these tires will last within the non-refueling regulation. I don't think we thought the tires would last that long.
Q: Was it particularly frustrating that you were in the process of working your way back up the field when you were called in?
LH: The most frustrating part naturally was being taken out. It is like climbing a ladder and then slipping down a couple of steps, after you have worked so hard to get to that point. That is all. That was the feeling. But it is motor racing and that is why motor racing is so exciting.
Q: Coming back to this weekend’s race, it was a pretty successful day for you on Friday…
LH: Yeah, it wasn’t bad! I have a good feeling in the car here, probably the best feeling for years. Every time you come to a track this year it always feels light years better than it was last year.
Q: Do you think you can claim pole position on Saturday?
LH: Our qualifying pace hasn’t been great at the last two races, so hopefully tomorrow will be a little bit better for us. It appears that we are quite competitive but we have to wait and see.
Q: Do you feel you have closed the gap to Red Bull and Ferrari?
LH: I don’t really know if we are closer to them but we definitely took a step forward, which is our aim at every race. We are trying to learn and to improve.
Q: Your team mate Jenson Button was quite unhappy with the balance of his car. Was everything all right for you?
LH: There are some changes that I need to make, but nothing too serious. I will sit down with the engineers to discuss the changes.
Q: What are your thoughts on the threat of rain for qualifying and the race in Malaysia? How are you preparing?
LH: Hopefully the weather will be okay on Saturday and on Sunday. What can you do? In regards to preparations, as I said we will go through the data, as we don’t know where everybody really is after FP1 and FP2. The important thing obviously is not to get too excited and do a similar job tomorrow.
Q: What do you think is the key to doing well at this track?
LH: This is a quite special circuit. It is very, very high speed. It is also a flowing circuit, not like at many other tracks where you start and stop, start and stop. You have to keep the car flowing and use all of the road, even the curbs. You need to have a lot of rear-end support in the car, have good balance, and also a good front end. That’s hard to have, but on top of that it is very hot, which is hard on the tires, so you have to have a car that is not too hard on the tires. You have to drive a little bit differently than at other circuits and probably my experience is helping me a little bit.
Q: You just mentioned the tires. How hard is it to look after them?
LH: The option tires are always the hard ones to look after but each time you go out you learn more and more about the degradation and techniques to look after them. It is never easy when you have to look after them whilst putting the car on the limit and doing quick times. formula1.com