Lewis: “For me it’s always maximum attack”
Lewis, if we can start with you: you’ve had a few days for it to sink in and now you arrive here as a three-time World Champion. How does it feel and how were the celebrations?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, hola everyone. Is it como estas?
Sergio Pérez: Como estas.
LH: Como estas? Really happy to be here in Mexico. It’s my first time and the last few days have been relaxed, not too hectic. A little bit of partying but obviously conscious that we have the race this weekend, so couldn’t do too much damage. I plan for more the end of the year to really go for it. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I think every day I’m kind of pinching myself, thinking ‘I can’t believe it’s really happened’. Yesterday I was straight back into business. I hit race mode, so I’ve not really been thinking about it that much but still it’s a good feeling.
You’ve won three titles now. But going back to when you won the first Championship, what has changed within you and what has changed around you since then?
LH: I think quite a lot really. A lot of growth and a lot of movement with different teams, different management and different people around me. I guess I’ve just grown a lot through these experiences. It’s taken a long time and I’ve gone the hard route. Before I got to Formula One I didn’t have any preparation for media and for press conferences like this, so I felt like I was thrown in the deep end. It took a long, long time to really acclimatise to that side of Formula One firstly – but also to the fame. I think being able to feel comfortable within yourself, come out of your shell a little bit more and be sure in who you are. It’s helped me to drive better than ever today. Over those years you learn more and more about racing so you hopefully improve. I definitely think, as an all-round driver, I should be better today. And, well, I am better.
You haven’t won it before with three races to go – in fact you’ve only ever won it at the last race before. So what’s the plan for the rest of the season? Still maximum attack?
LH: For me it’s always maximum attack and it’ll be the same for these three races. First, we’ve got the Mexican Grand Prix – for the first time in 23 years – and I think it’s exciting for the Mexican people. It’s definitely exciting for me and as all of us drivers. You love to leave your stamp on the first race somewhere – or back somewhere, in this case. So that’s the target. We’ve still got three big races to win.
Will you go into these final races taking more risks as you don’t have anything to lose now?
LH: I think I generally have a really balanced approach between risk and not too much risk. I don’t think I need to change it really because it’s done me well this year with the ten wins. So I’ll be keeping it the same and, of course, there’s no pressure this weekend. I can just enjoy the experience – so that’s what I’m going to try and do.
After seeing the track, what can you expect from the race on Sunday? Do you think it has opportunities to be one of the finest of the season?
LH: Well I just arrived so I haven’t seen the track as such. I haven’t walked around – but hopefully I’ll get the chance to do so later. But from the simulator it looked pretty awesome – and from images I’ve seen too. The crowd is really what makes the atmosphere and makes the weekend. I’ve heard this weekend is sold out and I’ve got some Mexican friends that I spend Christmases with, so I know the spirit of the Mexicans. If they all come out in their thousands, I think it could be one of the most amazing weekends of the season, so I’m looking forward to that.
SP: They will, don’t worry!
LH: There should be champagne and tequila on the podium too… and sombreros!
SP: There will be!
Any concerns about the altitude?
LH: I really don’t know what to expect. I train in high altitude during the winter so I anticipate it’s going to be more physical for us – but it also depends on how much grip there is. So, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
You’ve said that you expect this main straight to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, of the year. Could you elaborate on that?
LH: My engineers told me that it’s going to be the fastest straight. It’s quite long and, because we’ve got the high altitude, we’ve also probably got the least amount of drag of the whole year. In the past, when we had normally aspirated engines, we would have lost power alongside the downforce. But with this car we don’t. We lose downforce and drag but we don’t lose any power thanks to the turbo and the ERS so it should be unbelievably fast this weekend.
Since the race in Austin, have you discussed the Turn One incident with the Nico or the team at all? And also, Nico is in quite a close battle for second in the Drivers’ Championship – will you help him out at all in that respect?
LH: We haven’t spoken but I don’t think we really need to. The team has not asked me to support him in that role as I’m here to win the race. The team has won the Constructors’ Championship so I think from here on it’s not really of huge benefit to the team for me to start helping. We’ll see what Toto wants me to do.
Toto was quite clear after the race that he did feel the need for talks to take place and that he didn’t want any fall-out like that which occurred in Spa. Why would you suggest that you don’t think there’s a need for any talks? And secondly, as a supplementary question, what happened with the cap flinging incident? Are you and Nico going to have a chat about that at all going forward?
LH: Ah, OK. The reason for me to say that is just that I’m very easy going and so I never really have any problems. I think Toto feels that he needs to perhaps sit with Nico to see where his head’s at. Obviously we don’t want any tension in the team. We do often come together and just keep it transparent. I don’t really have anything to say about it but, of course, I’m sure we will sit down and see what Nico’s feeling and whatever emotions he has and try and dilute them and then move on. In terms of the cap thing, I don’t know. It’s pretty funny so I don’t really have much else to say about it.