Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

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

Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

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. But...

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.

shares
comments
Hamilton apologises for 'huge mistake'
Previous article

Hamilton apologises for 'huge mistake'

Next article

Friday's press conference - Malaysia

Friday's press conference - Malaysia
Load comments
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Plus

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Autosport heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Plus

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022
The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future Plus

The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future

As attitudes towards the motor car and what powers it change, Formula 1 must adapt its offering. MARK GALLAGHER ponders the end of fossil fuels

Formula 1
Jan 3, 2022