Lewis Hamilton Silverstone InterviewJune 22nd, 2009
Lewis Hamilton’s 16th place in Sunday’s British Grand Prix was a stark contrast to his victory at Silverstone in 2008. But as development of the McLaren MP4-24 continues, the reigning champion insists there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to driving Ayrton Senna’s MP4-4 at the forthcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed, as he explained to his official site…
Q: Not the best result in front of your home fans – was it a tough race?
Lewis Hamilton: Yes, it was a difficult afternoon for the whole team, but we knew that going into the weekend. I had some exciting moments out on the racetrack and really enjoyed my race. And while the result didn’t look so good for us, again, I think we can take some positives away from this weekend because we genuinely learnt a lot about our car. It’s still not going to be a night-and-day change that makes the difference, but I’m hoping that we can gain some advantage to help improve our results.
Q: You mentioned ‘exciting moments’?
LH: I had a great time racing against Nick (Heidfeld) and Fernando (Alonso), both guys who are hard but fair. The move on Heidfeld was pretty much on the limit, but it was fun. It was great to have enough of a balance in the car to be able to push and attack, but it was clearly not enough, and I was again on the edge through the race. I’m looking forward to the Nurburgring – the home race for Mercedes-Benz; I’m hoping that we will have some huge improvements for the race as it would be great to give our second home crowd something to cheer and feel proud about, but we’ll see. Places like Hungary, Valencia and Singapore should hopefully be stronger for us and so there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for the end of season push. We need a competitive car before the end of the season so we can learn as much as we possibly can for next season.
Q: What did you do after the race?
LH: I relaxed and got changed back at the Brand Centre then I went over to the post-race party to say hello to everyone. What an amazing end to the day – the sun was going down, the weather was fantastic and they told me there were 20,000 people at the stage. When I walked onto the stage, the fans’ reaction was amazing – just overwhelming. Because we are not doing so well this year with our results, I was worried about letting the fans down, but honestly, I’ve been really humbled by the support from the fans at Silverstone this year. I thought they were incredible in 2007 and 2008 but this year was bigger and better than ever. I’ve never seen so much passion from a crowd at a Grand Prix – from the people in the paddock, everyone cheering me on in the grandstands and then the people afterwards at the post-race party. I think this year’s race has been the best ever for the fans. We really need to come back to Silverstone again, don’t we.
Q: Was that the reason for your impromptu doughnuts after the race?
LH: It hadn’t been the best race of my Formula One career, but I’d had a great weekend and I wanted to entertain the fans. I hope the crowd enjoyed it! It was only afterwards that I realised that’s not the sort of thing you see very often at the end of a Grand Prix, but I wanted to do it to say ‘Thank You’ for continuing to support me and my team in our time of need. We will repay your loyalty – soon.
Q: This year’s race might have been the last at Silverstone – what memories will you take away of the place?
LH: When you look back at the history of the sport, you see that there are four special circuits in Formula One – Monaco, Monza, Spa and Silverstone. I was at the BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club) clubhouse the other day and I was looking at some old pictures of past Silverstone race drivers – there were shots of Fangio, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill plus many more. So to race at Silverstone, it has an extra meaning – Copse is still pretty much the same now as it was when the race was held here in the 1950s. All the corners have names rather than numbers, and names that have a meaning. To have won here, as at Monaco, has an extra significance and importance. I will always remember the crowd’s reaction when I took pole here in 2007, I could hear them cheering above the noise of the engine on my slow-down lap, and also winning here last year and jumping up onto the podium. But I just have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of this place. I hope so, anyway.
Q: There’s three weeks until Germany – what’s next?
LH: After a busy few weeks, I will get home, relax and do some proper training for the second half of the season. I think we have more things to look forward to in the second half of the year and I want to be fully fit to make the most of them. But before that, I have a bit more fun on my schedule – I’m going to the Goodwood Festival next weekend, on Sunday 5th July to drive Ayrton’s 1988 McLaren up the hill. Whenever I go to the MTC (McLaren Technology Centre), there are two cars that I love the most – the first is the McLaren F1 that I’ve set my heart on winning and the second is Ayrton’s MP4-4. Even today, it still looks like the car to be racing! About a month ago, I went down and sat in the car while the guys were preparing it for Goodwood, and tomorrow I’m having my final seat-fitting, that is going to be a pretty cool moment!