Lewis: “The race was tougher than it may have looked”

Lewis: “The race was tougher than it may have looked”

How important was it to get that first win knowing that this is a package that can roll-on this year?

It’s been an incredible weekend; everyone is asking about how important it was to get the win and naturally that’s what I was here to do, but it was just important that the approach was right this weekend. To get a 1-2 for the team, particularly in Malaysia for me – it makes it even more special to tick another off the list.

The conditions were pretty intense out there...

Yes, you’re sweating even before you get in the car here so it’s always a challenge to keep your body as cool as possible and maintain your focus. Yesterday wasn’t as hot as it has been in the past, though. This year there is lot less downforce in the cars too, so it’s less physical. It’s still a serious workout, of course, but not as much as in years gone by when the cars had so much downforce. Fortunately my drinks machine worked. Even though it’s like drinking hot tea, it did the job!

The race looked quite comfortable for you: did it feel as such in the car?

The race was tougher than it may have looked. But I was able to look after the car, the tyres and the fuel and still keep a bit of pace in hand which made my job that little bit easier. I don’t think any race is ever easy. There are opportunities that present themselves and you have to take them with both hands. Today that’s what I did. I would hear on the radio that Nico had stepped up the pace and reacting to that without damaging the tyres or making a mistake was tough. Fortunately for me, the car was spectacular and the team were spot on with all the pit stops timings and radio updates.

There’s a general feeling that the championship will come down to you and your teammate...

I think it’s far too early to rule anyone else out. Today, Sebastian was very quick and he was applying pressure to Nico. Looking at the pace of the Red Bull, their car is just as quick as ours through all the corners, it just appears a bit slower on the straights. I have no doubts at all that Renault are going to fix that and when they do, there will be a big race between us and the Bulls.

Were you surprised to have such a big gap to Nico in this race?

I don’t think surprised is the word I would use. In terms of a qualifying lap I felt that I had the edge, but on long run pace you would see our long run in P2, he went a lap longer and was generally similar pace – so I was expecting that in this race. But from that running I learned a lot of where I could improve. It is one thing learning it, but being able to apply it doesn’t always work. But today it worked and that is why I was pulling away.?

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