THE STEERING COLUMN: An Interview with Car No.44

THE STEERING COLUMN: An Interview with Car No.44

During the run-up to the British Grand Prix, The Steering Column was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Lewis' car - The No.44 F1 W08 Hybrid.

'I feel like a proper car each time I leave the garage'

Steering Column (SC): This is a first. We've never been granted an interview with one of the drivers' cars before...

No.44: Well it's about time too! All I read is Lewis this and Lewis that - you never stop to think that maybe I have a role to play in his success? Without me, he's just a good-looking guy with a couple of dogs. I'm what makes him so fast around the track and... I'm sorry. I realise I'm having a bit of a rant... but it's so unfair that he gets all the attention.

SC: Before we talk more about Lewis, it must feel pretty special to be a Silver Arrow?

No.44: Yes, it does! Knowing how many people are involved in getting me ready to race, it's seriously impressive. I love being back in the factory, meeting all the designers and engineers. These guys and girls have brains the size of planets; and they are always thinking up new ways of getting me round the circuit even faster. I love seeing what they attach to me over a race weekend - I feel like a proper car each time I leave the garage.

SC: That's a strange thing to say - you don't feel like a proper car at other times?

No.44: I think that's the common misconception that most people have about racing cars. They look at their car on the drive and think that we are like them. The reality is that I'm only really a car from the moment I drive out of the garage onto the track. Until that point, I'm always being stripped and reassembled, adjusted and tinkered with. You should see me in the race bays back at the factory between races - totally naked with my carbon fibre exposed to anyone who walks by - it's really quite embarrassing at times. So to answer your question - it's only when I'm fired up, with Lewis on board, that I feel like a proper car.

'I was Snapchatting W07 44 last week'

SC: Now, recently Toto publicly referred to you as "A bit of a Diva". How do you respond to that?

No.44: Well that's rich coming from him! Have you seen all the fist-slamming he does during the races? We did have a quiet chat in the garage after the Canadian Grand Prix where he apologised for saying that; so we have put it behind us now.

It has been a challenging start to the season, though. As I'm built to a completely new set of rules this year, it has taken some time to understand how to get me set-up correctly and make the most of the new Italian shoes we have this season. I was Snapchatting W07 44 last week and she was saying how much easier she had it after three years of development. But I think the team understands me better now and I'm hoping for great things from the rest of 2017.

SC: At the race in Baku, how did you feel about the, shall we say, inappropriate touching that took place during the race?

No.44: No-one likes their rear being felt-up when they're trying to concentrate on an important job. I'm told I have a very attractive rear - but that's no excuse for what happened. And it took a long time for the gentlemen in red to apologise. I'm just going to have to make sure he sees plenty more of my rear during the rest of the season.

'My team mate W08 77 seems to be having fun with Valtteri too'

SC: So, tell me, how well do you and Lewis get on?

No.44: I was joking earlier when I said he gets all the attention. I couldn't ask for a better driver. He's been truly inspiring this season. Just look what we managed to achieve together during qualifying in Baku - pole position at the last gasp! No-one could touch us. My team mate W08 77 seems to be having fun with Valtteri too. It was wonderful to see them winning last weekend in Austria.

SC: Finally, it's Silverstone this coming weekend. It's your first visit there. How are you preparing?

No.44: The other W0s have been telling me what an amazing atmosphere it is, particularly if you are privileged enough to be carrying No.44. Apparently, you can hardly hear your engine noise above the cheers of the crowds. Actually, what I'm really looking forward to is the short 20 minute trip from my home in Brackley to the circuit; it will make a change from the boredom of long flights to the other races. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an engineering meeting to attend...

SC: Thanks for your time and best of luck at Silverstone!

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