Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

As expected, McLaren is struggling at the British Grand Prix, but not even Lewis Hamilton expected to be starting from the final row of the grid

Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

AUTOSPORT heard from the world champion following another difficult day.

Q. Did you feel you still had the lap in you when Adrian Sutil left the road to get into Q2?

Lewis Hamilton: I think I only had maybe a tenth and a half to two tenths - a tenth in the last sector and a tenth in the middle sector. I don't think it was going to be anything special and I had already lost quite a bit of time in the first sector due to some big oversteer moments.

Q. Is today's qualifying performance indicative of the phrase 'what a difference a year makes'?

LH: Kind of yeah, I guess so. As racing drivers and people we all have good years and we all have bad years. I have had a good run of four good years, so I have finally come to a year where it is pretty disastrous to say the least, but we continue to push and continue to work as a team to try and improve things. There will be a better day, it is just a long, long struggle for us at the moment - but we keep pushing and hopefully we will get back there one day.

Q. This weekend has been overshadowed by the row between the FIA and FOTA. Are you concerned about the damage that that is doing to Formula 1?

LH: For me, I have not really had much time to think about the other things, due to the amount of work I have had going on, especially in the last couple of weeks. Then the problems we have had with the car, I am devoting all of my time, apart from the appearances and things you have to do, to try and help the team move in the right direction and learning from our mistakes.

I am no engineer or an aerodynamicist, but I am always asking questions, as much as they all do the same for me. I have been thinking about that mostly, but it is tough in the sport right now. But I can only hope I am racing next year because I want another shot at the world championship, so I am very hopeful for it.

Q. When you get away from the track, do you talk to other celebrities or sportsmen about them going through tough times and how they cope with it?

LH: No. I don't really speak to then. The only other celebrity I speak to is Heikki [Kovalainen], and we are always talking golf or women or something like that! So no.

Q. What can you do then to help the team discover what is wrong with the car?

LH: We are in the simulator every week, sometimes doing two days a week in the simulator. Me and Heikki are flat out, as well as Pedro and Gary. We occupy the simulator, and it is busy pretty much every day of the week. So there is very little more we can do as drivers. We go to all the meetings, we work with our engineers, we give ideas and we push for different development parts and generally we try to make sure that whatever we request is in the right direction for the team.

For us it is done on feel. When we say we need more rear end, we need more rear end. The car is all over the place and there is nothing I can do with my driving style to stop it other than drive slow, and we have been working so hard. All the engineers and mechanics are all as committed as before, but unfortunately the error was made a long time ago, not that it was an error but the unfortunate route we took happened a long time ago and it is kind of undoable.

We will continue to make changes to this car and as you can see, when we were in Barcelona in week 11, we were two seconds off. We are pretty much in the same spot now, maybe 1.5 seconds, because everyone else has moved forward. The Red Bulls have made another step forward and they have gained a good half a second this weekend. We don't have one second on the car this weekend; we have gained a tenth or two if we are lucky.

Q. How hard is it going to be to drive the British Grand Prix from 19th on the grid?

LH: It's going to be very tough for us from there. Going into this weekend we wanted to get into the points because we've not done that for a while now. Especially for me in front of my home crowd, I wanted to be able to give a little bit back. But now I'm in the position where all I can do is drive my heart out and give it my all. If we manage to get into the top 15, that's the only real target we have right now because we're 19th, a long way back, on a high- speed circuit, so it's going to be very tough.

We have to bear in mind pretty much every car around is quicker in the high-speed corners. It's a fact, even though the Toro Rosso and Force India are faster than us in turn one. To be able to attack those and overtake them is going to be very tricky tomorrow, but we are going to have to wait and see what happens.

Q. Is there a target you've set yourself to finish in the standings?

LH: We aim to win, so we want to be as high up as we can. I think I'm P11 in the championship right now, which is new for us. With the way we're going, not scoring any points, that's kind of where we're going to be. Bit by bit, if we can begin to start scoring, one, two, three more points per race, then slowly we will climb back up the standings. But I'm not sure we will get up into the top five with the pace we have.

And when I'm talking about next year, we have a tough job on our hands, and we have a lot of pressure on our hands. Regardless of what way the championship is going, it doesn't really bother me. We have to work as a team to make sure we have the best car, and if we get there next year, we want to be winning every race. So that's what we are all working for, what we are all hopeful for. Clearly everyone else is going to do a great job as well, but we just have to make sure we don't have a tough year like this again.

Q. Would it correct the errors this year winning a new series if there was a breakaway?

LH: It doesn't make any difference.

Q. What sort of advice are you getting from your dad now things are not going so well?

LH: Not too much. My dad's always there if I need him. At the start of the year he was very vocal and helping me getting through things. I think it's just his presence which is the key. He's been to every single race in my whole career since I was eight, and for every single remote control car race he was there.

I see him in the garage and he understands the position I'm in, what I'm struggling with. I'm trying to do him proud with the way that I come across, the way I react, and at the moment he's making me feel I am (doing him proud).

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