Q & A with Lewis Hamilton
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, April 3rd 2009, 10:33 GMT|
Lewis Hamilton has been at the centre of a controversy since the Australian Grand Prix, where the McLaren driver and sporting director Dave Ryan faced the FIA stewards to explain an incident with Jarno Trulli during the race.
Over the week, the FIA revealed both men had misled the stewards, leading to Hamilton's disqualification from the event and to heavy criticism in the British media over his antics.
On Friday at Sepang, Hamilton faced the media to offer an apology and to give his view on the whole incident.
Lewis Hamilton: In Melbourne, I had a great race. As soon as I got out the car I had the television interviews at the back of the garage, and straight away I gave them a good account of what happened during the race. Straight after that we were requested by the stewards, and while waiting for the stewards I was instructed and misled by my team manager to withhold information, and that is what I did.
I sincerely apologise to the stewards for wasting their time and for making them look silly. I am very, very sorry for the situation: for my team, for Dave because he has been a good member of the team for many years, and whilst I don't think it was his intention or...he is a good guy.
I went into the meeting, I had no intention of...I just wanted to tell the story and say what happened. I was misled and that is the way it went. I would like to say a big sorry to all my fans who have believed in me, who have supported me for years, who I showed who I am for the past three years, and it is who I am. I am not a liar. I am not a dishonest person. I am a team player.
Every time I have been informed to do something I have done it. This time I realise it was a huge mistake and I am learning from it. It has taken a huge toll on me. I apologise to you guys, I didn't speak to you yesterday, but there was a lot of take in and a lot to deal with. I am here to apologise to everyone and I assure you it won't happen again.
Q. How do you feel about yourself? Do you feel comfortable with yourself about what you have done?
LH: No. This is why I am here. This is why I am sitting here in front of you. This is not an easy thing for anyone to do. To put their hand up, and step back and realise they are in the wrong. But the fact is I was in the wrong. I feel I owe it to my fans and I owe it to my people to let them know. But like I said, I was misled. It is easy to be misled sometimes, and I realise that that is the situation and that is why I am here.
Q. You say you were misled. Can I ask, did you talk to Dave Ryan before you went into the stewards and say, that doesn't stack up with what I have just said or what I believe? And how difficult was it for you to go in knowing that what you were saying was misleading?
LH: The thing is we were rushed. I was still in my suit, and we went straight up. Actually when I came up from the garage, we went straight up the pitlane and we went straight there, and while we were waiting for Jarno to come out, I was instructed.
I honestly acted as a team member. If the team have asked me to do something I have generally done it. I didn't have time to think about it, to think about what I was going to do. I went in and I did it, and I felt awkward. I felt very uncomfortable. I think the stewards could see that, and I guess that is why I am in this position.
To refer to the guy before's question - I've never felt so bad. Try and put yourself in my position and understand that, like I said, I am not a liar. I have not gone through my life being a liar or dishonest. And so for people to say I am dishonest and for the world to think that....what can I say?
Q. You have said it was a matter between you and Dave Ryan. Was anyone else at McLaren involved in the planning for the decision, or was it only you two?
LH: No. It was just me and Dave.
Q. There was nothing wrong with what you did on the circuit. There was nothing wrong with the radio conversation itself. Did you not ask yourself why the hell they [the team] wanted to present this version, and what was the target out of it?
LH: Like I said, I was literally walking in so I didn't have time to really think about it. But for sure afterwards I wasn't completely sure why. We hadn't done anything wrong, we were just going in there to give account of what happened - regardless of if I had third or fourth. Jarno did a fantastic race and I had no need and no intention of giving him the penalty. That was not my aim. That is not something I do. I earn my points and my positions through hard work, and that is not the way I think.
Q. Have you apologised to Jarno, and was it you who pressured the team to sack Ryan [who has been suspended]?
LH: That second part of the question is nothing to do with me. Dave is a great guy and he has worked with the team for many years. He is feeling it just as much as the whole team. I haven't had the chance to speak to Jarno. I did actually see him before we went into the meeting and I said sorry for the situation. Butů
Q. When Jarno went off and you passed him correctly, because he was off the track, why was there was any decision at all about letting him back in front? Why didn't you just stay there? Why was there any radio communication?
LH: When the safety car comes out, the team tell you time and time again, no overtaking under yellow flags. So while that has been drummed into you, you are dealing with everything that has been going on.
Jarno went off the track and clearly I went by. I tried to avoid going by, but I went by. Whilst I was sure in my mind that this is not my fault I have gone by him, I had to be sure. I worked this hard to get from dead last on the grid to fourth place, I was sitting in third now and I didn't want to be penalised. I didn't want the hard work to go out the window by getting a penalty, so I had to make sure. It is better to be safe and sound so I asked time and time again.
Q. Is this the worst thing you've ever had to do. And do you fear FIA retribution for the team, which a lot of people have speculated on? The FIA has said it is possible there could be repercussions
LH: For me, the situation is definitely the worst thing I've experienced in my life. That is why I am here. It is right for me as a human being and as a man to stand in front of you all and tell you exactly what went on and put up my hands. I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I'm sorry to my team and my family for the embarrassment. It is a very, very embarrassing situation.
I am sure the FIA will act accordingly and in the right way. I don't know what else is going to happen in the future. For me now, I have to focus on the race and try to move forward from this, learn from it and grow.