Q: Lewis, you’re coming off the back of three straight poles to a circuit where you’ve never been in on pole position before in your career. How do you see this weekend and the battleground that is qualifying on Saturday?
LH: The same as every race. I’m excited for it. The team have worked very hard to try to learn from the last race and improve. For me, as you said, I’ve been on the front row but I’ve not been on pole here. So naturally that’s something I want to try to change.
Q: Throughout Formula One history the psychological battle between title rivals has always been intense. Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve evolved your attitude as you’ve matured as a driver?
LH: It’s not really changed much. I just do my talking on the track. That’s how it’s always been since I was eight years old. Naturally you try to learn from decisions you take and experiences you have and hope that you get better.
Q: So, the approach is not to get involved, then?
LH: That’s not what I said. You just do your talking on the track and try to do your best. All the stuff that happens out of the car – I have no particular interest in it.
Q: Your weekend in Shanghai has been rather overshadowed by coverage of the podium ceremony. I don’t know if you’ve heard the comments from the grid girl who was finally contacted and said she thought the entire thing was a bit of a fuss for something that lasted one or two seconds. What are your thoughts on the podium ceremony and the media furore that has surrounded something entirely normal in motorsport?
LH: Good question. Obviously when you come into the team you get a kind of debrief of what’s happened during the week and I hadn’t really heard too much about it until today. Fortunately for me it’s not overshadowed my week. Ultimately it was a great weekend. My actions were through excitement. This is Formula One – it’s the pinnacle of motorsport, I’d just won a Grand Prix for the team and I usually see it as a fun thing. I would never intend to disrespect someone or try to embarrass someone like that. It’s nice to know that the lady wrote in. If it had been the other way and she’d wrote in and she was really unhappy, then perhaps there would be more concern.
Q: This is a hot race, like Malaysia. How afraid are you about the performance of Ferrari with the rear tyres? And regarding team orders, what comment can you make?
LH: Regarding the tyres, as it was in Malaysia, this is very much a rear-limited circuit so you have to assume that Ferrari will be very strong again. But I think from our experience with Malaysia, we’re going to try and take a slightly different approach and hope that that helps us combat that area – in which we can improve. I feel quite confident that as a team we can rectify the issues that we had in Malaysia. But it’s still going to be tough and Ferrari have been very, very competitive in the last couple of races. So I anticipate they will be very strong this weekend and our race is definitely with them. Team orders is not something we generally talk much about. It’s not our approach but ultimately our job as two drivers is to try to help the team get the best result overall. Regardless of whether you’re first or second, it’s your job to try and make sure you secure the most points possible for the team.
Q: Did you understand what Nico meant after the race when we said that you drove too slowly?
LH: Well, it’s something we spoke about after the race so I don’t particularly see a reason to go back into it. Obviously you know what my comments were after the race. We’re moving forwards and we will re-unite as a team this weekend and try to do a great job. There’s no issue between me and Nico. We saw each other this morning and everything is good. They’re going to be times when people are unhappy about some things but we’re grown-ups and we move past it.
Q: Looking back to last year’s race when you and Nico had a real battle here. Given the comments that have been made over the last few days, do you think he’ll be even more fired up to try and get past you this time?
LH: Well, I don’t know what comments have been made over the last few days. I don’t read it as it’s just not of interest to me. But last year we had an amazing race here. It was really fantastic, great fun, a huge challenge both for Nico and for me. It was honestly the best race, visibly, that I had seen here in Bahrain so it was great and I’m looking forward to that. I think with these tyres and with Ferrari in the mix, I think we could see a really special race here. On my part, I’m just going to keep doing what I do and try to improve. Last year I didn’t qualify on pole here. I’ve never been on pole here so that’s the challenge.