Lewis Hamilton, talking to McLaren’s website, reviews his Brazilian GP, the loss of the 2007 World title and looks ahead to next year’s Championship.
Q: Lewis, so close wasn’t it. You’ve been such a major force in Formula 1 this year; tell us what you are thinking?
LH: Thank you! No it’s been an incredible year and you know I’m still quite happy, if you think about it, coming from GP2, who would have thought I’d be ranked number two in my first year of Formula 1. For sure we led the, the World Championship all the way to the last race and we had a – a tough three weeks, there was nothing we could do. We did the best job we could, the team did a phenomenal job all year, the car was great and I honestly still believe that we have the quickest car and I think we’ve learnt so much from this year, we’ll go into next season with our heads high and I know I will do even a better job next year and come back even stronger.
Q: A lot of people are talking about the problems that you had in the race, you had rotten luck with the car, can you tell us what happened?
LH: It wasn’t a great start to the race, I locked up behind Fernando basically to avoid hitting him and went a bit wide. I came back on and was quite relaxed, I knew that I had the pace to gain back my position and I was downshifting into turn 4 and it just went into neutral. I coasted for quite some time and eventually, I don’t know how, but it just eventually clicked back in and I was able to get it going again and from then on we had to manage the engine so I was quite low rpm.
Q: When did you feel that it was over, when your chances of the Championship were gone?
LH: When I saw the Chequered Flag. I never stopped pushing, I just kept going until the end and I was told at the beginning we could still get it and I truly believed that, so I just kept doing the best job I could and I think pacewise we weren’t that bad. For sure it wasn’t as good as the, the Ferraris but I think that has a lot to do with the way we were running our engine, I think, in terms of actual pace and, and with the car, I think we could have been quicker than – no problem. I’ve come from GP2 and now I am ranked number two in the world which is positive. I really can’t wait for next year. I know we can do a better job.
Q: Were you feeling emotional when you crossed the line and you realised that it wasn’t yours or it might have been? How did you cope with it?
LH: Oh for sure it’s a little bit emotional but I just can’t deny the fact that it’s been an incredible season. I finished second in the World Championship, I beat my team mate, under extremely difficult circumstances I beat the two time World Champion, that was the goal a the beginning so that’s a great result. Kimi did a fantastic job all season and drove very very well so he deserves to have it.
Q: Do you feel robbed of the Championship?
LH: No, it’s been a crazy year. I’m really, really gutted but I just think it’s unfortunate that we had that little problem, after all we haven’t had any problems all year really apart from the tyres and the car was phenomenal for the race, it really was good, apart from the first lap I think I drove one of my best races and so you can’t be disappointed with that. I think everyone had their fair share of bad luck this year, it’s just unfortunate that mine all came in the last few races. We have had a hard few weeks, so I wouldn’t say I’ve been robbed. Kimi and Ferrari did a fantastic job, I think it’s a shame that our team, with everything that’s gone on, we didn’t get the Championship but we’ll go into it next year with heads high.
Q: A lot of British fans have been rooting for you. What would you like to say to them right now?
LH: I have to say a big sorry to all the fans back home, I really do appreciate all the support, they’ve been phenomenal this year, and also my family, but let’s not forget it’s been an incredible season for me and to come into my first season in Formula 1 and finish a rank number two. I’m the number two driver in the world, that’s – that’s pretty awesome so we can’t complain, it’s been difficult, it’s been very, very tough but we’ll, we’ll bounce back from this, I have no doubt about it. I went into the race and I said to myself that whatever happens, it’s been a phenomenal year. Who would have thought I would be leading the World Championship going into the last race, I could have been World Champion and that’s a great feeling. It’s been a huge roller-coaster ride and yes, for sure, we all wanted to win – the World Cup and the World Championship. It’s obviously not England’s turn this year, but it’s my first year in Formula 1, next year we’ll bounce back stronger.
Q: What are your thoughts on Kimi Raikkonen winning the World Championship? Do you think he deserves it?
LH: I think any of us could have deserved it and for sure he deserves to win. He did a great job, he did a great job the last few races and um, you know, it’s all about consistency and, you know, he did an honest job. I have to say a big congratulations to him because he’s been a phenomenal force all year and I’ve always admired him, I think he’s a great driver and I think he’s actually a really good guy so I’m really proud of what he’s achieved and I’ll stick it to him hopefully next year!
Q: What do you think you learned Lewis, what will you save from this year going forward?
LH: Just about everything, from every race I’ve learnt a huge amount and I honestly can’t say there’s one thing. There’s not one thing I can say that I’ve learnt more than others. But certain mistakes that I’ve made, I won’t make them next year.
Q: You’ll be back next season but for now though you must be intensely proud of your achievements in your debut year.
LH: I am and I think I set some good records this year, I’ll be interested to see who beats them in the future but you know there’s still more records to be beat and there’s still a long, long way to go, I’m only 22, I’ll be here for a while and very proud to be in the Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes team so fingers crossed they’ll keep me for a while.
Q: You’re still smiling, you’ve had an incredible year haven’t you, especially at 22 years old, your father said earlier ‘oh we’ll be back next year and if we don’t win it next year, we’ll win it in 2009′. What’s your final thought?
LH: I totally agree, I think, I was just told we have 22 weeks to the next race, to Melbourne and in those 22 weeks I’m going to come back fitter, more relaxed, more experienced and I think we’ll have a better car so let’s keep our heads high and look forward to next year. We’ll be even better prepared and the team are going to keep pushing, I’m going to keep pushing, I’ve got the experience now, I can bank that and start from fresh in Melbourne…