• IN WORDS: Lewis & Valtteri Talk Brazil

Lewis and Valtteri intend to pull out all the stops in the battle to win the Constructors' Championship

Lewis returned to the Formula One paddock for the first time as a five-time Drivers' World Champion at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.

Nearly a fortnight has passed since his title win in Mexico, but he has still not yet really processed his memorable performance.

"Honestly it hasn't sunk in yet," said Lewis on Thursday in São Paulo. "We still have two races to go. I think that's probably why it's not sunk in, because I'm still in the frame of mind that we still have to win and the job is not done yet."

"Naturally, I have been able to enjoy it a little bit, but it still hasn't sunk in. I have been going on with my life the same as I always have. But right now, the focus is on making sure we try to secure the world title for the team. That is the key for over a thousand people at the factory, who are working so hard. That is the thing that means the most to them."

"It is the most important thing. That is the number one priority at the beginning of the year. That is what the guys work for."

However, the early title win in Mexico has not changed the load resting on his shoulders: "Honestly, I feel no difference, coming here this weekend. I still want to win the race. Generally, I perform the best under pressure, so maybe I subconsciously allowed the pressure to remain the same. I have not won here in Brazil for a long time, and I want to win here."

Lewis isn't sure why he has only registered one race victory at the Auodromo Jose Carlo Pace but he's determined to add to that this weekend: "I don't really know why I haven't won here more. I can't really explain it. It is a difficult track. It is lots of different circumstances. I am grateful for the one win I have, but naturally, I want more."

Valtteri is still chasing his first victory of the 2018 Formula One season. "It would be great for Valtteri to feel better in the car and to finish off the season strong," said Lewis. "Last year, he finished off strong which really set him up for the beginning of this year which I think he started off strong again."

Valtteri has some good memories of his pole lap from last year: "Last year was a strong race weekend for me, so I really hope it will be again. That's definitely the goal. I had a pretty strong weekend in general. I just lost it at the race start on Sunday, so I am aiming to have a good weekend."

"Like every race weekend, it's not going to be easy to beat Lewis, and that is the goal for me, and also to beat the red cars and the Red Bulls. I have a good mindset for this weekend."

Like Lewis, Valtteri has also, of course, set himself the goal of securing as many points as possible for the team so that we can win our fifth consecutive Constructors' World Championship.

"For sure, we want to finish as high as we can. We both want to win the race," said Valtteri. "As a team, we aim to be as strong as we can be in qualifying and in the race. We all know that there is a chance for us to secure the constructors' title here, but it's not something we want to think about too much."

"We are here, because we want to be the best team. To do that together as a team. We want to be the best of everyone. That is the thing that keeps us going every day, that keeps us working hard together, that keeps us united and with a good spirit. That's why winning the constructors' championship is a big thing."

The team lost a little bit of ground to Ferrari in the last two races in the USA and Mexico.

"The last two races have been pretty shocking compared to our standards," said Lewis candidly. "I don't know how these next races are going to go, but I will do everything to make sure that we will win them."

The team has been pushing to reach that goal ever since the end of the race in Mexico. "The team worked really hard in terms of finding answers for that quickly," said Valtteri. "I went to the factory as well, and it was really interesting to see how we have been able to really track those issues."

Lewis agreed with him: "I'm confident that everyone has worked as hard as they can to rectify it and to understand it and to push forward. It might take this race or even next race before we fully understand it, but I think it points to the fact that there is always work to do at this point of the year. There are always things that you can learn and improve or methods that you can apply to next year which will be quite important. I think even so, they have not been great races. They have been quite a steep learning curve for us."

The team will face fresh challenges in Brazil at a circuit that puts huge demands on tyres. "I am hoping this weekend we can get the car in the right place so we can fight with the Red Bulls and Ferraris who have appeared to come back more into shooting range," said Lewis. "Red Bull's dominance in the last race was impressive and I am sure they will be quick here this weekend as well as with Ferrari."

"I don't really have an idea how it is going to be in these last couple of races, and I can't really explain to you why it has been so difficult for us these last two races, particularly the last one. I am really hopeful that we get in the car this weekend and it feels more normal and that we are competitive, but we still have a job to do, which is to win the Constructors' Championship. The focus remains exactly the same as in the previous races in my mind."

Lewis continues to put his stamp on the F1 record books with five Drivers' Championships, 71 wins and 81 pole positions.

Nevertheless, chasing Michael Schumacher's records isn't what drives Lewis to continue breaking new ones.

"Records have never been something that is driving me," he told us. "I think to this point in my life, this is the highest point of my career in terms of my own performance and of how I perform with the team, but there are always areas to improve."

Lewis would like to take a look at these areas with the team once the season has ended in order to return even stronger in the new year.

"We didn't win every single race and there were some mishaps at the beginning of the year... there is always room to improve. I expect to do that. That is my expectation of myself and I have to work at this during the winter. Of course, you have to dig deep, because all these young kids are coming in like Charles Leclerc going to Ferrari, who is hungry to prove a point. You've got Max too, who is still hungry to prove a point. I have to make sure that I am still there."

But first, there's the penultimate race weekend of the season in São Paulo to look forward to. We can hardly wait!