Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton described his first impressions of the new McLaren MP4-25 as 'night and day' in difference to same experience he had at the first test of 2009

Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

During a press briefing after a successful first day with the new car at Valencia, the buoyant former world champion talked about his run in the car, his excitement ahead of the new season, and why he can't wait to go testing again next week. AUTOSPORT was there to hear what he had to say.

Q. A year ago the car wasn't that great and you knew that from the start. How was it today?

Lewis Hamilton: It was a night and day difference in feeling compared to the first lap and the first test day in 2009. I have a positive feeling. I've obviously kept a close eye on the development of the car and the results we got at the end of 2009 - so seeing this car evolve and having the input into it, I was very excited to get in the car today to see what parts we have improved. Hopefully we would have got rid of a lot of the bugs that we had in the previous car.

I got in today and it felt good. I got out smiling and all the problems I had generally with the last car I didn't have with this one. There are still of areas we can improve on.

Q. But is it exactly what you wanted from the first day with a new car?

LH: For me? Absolutely. It has gone well. Obviously the Ferrari seems very quick, and so does the Sauber. But we don't know want fuel loads everyone else was on. We felt quite comfortable with what we were doing, but there is quite a bit of time we need to find.

Q. What did the car feel like with a heavy fuel load on board?

LH: It doesn't really feel much different to be honest. I think the only reason I say that is that the car feels quite comfortable with that fuel load in the car. So I am looking forward to the next couple of tests we have, just to get some more running and longer runs, and to see the behaviour with the tyres.

Q. I know this is only the first day, but do you feel that this is a car that can challenge at the front over the first part of the season?

LH: It is too early to really say. I do feel that it is a huge improvement from the beginning of 2009. Therefore I don't feel we are two or three seconds behind. So the progress we will make from here to the last test and the first race, hopefully we can do as good job as we did at the beginning of 2009. But hopefully we will be competing. At the moment we were third - so we are not last, which is a nice feeling.

Q. Gary Paffett expressed some concerns about the tyres yesterday. What do you think about the narrower fronts?

LH: The tyres for me were fairly similar to the tyres we've had in the past. The front tyre is a little bit weaker, has a little bit more understeer, but otherwise they behave the same.

Q. What are your plans between now and the next test?

LH: I have a lot of work this week. I have appearances all the way to Saturday, with filming and all that kind of stuff. So I fly back tonight.

Q. You haven't shared the track yet with Michael Schumacher. Did you watch him or see him around?

LH: I didn't watch him yesterday. I arrived at about 5.30pm so I missed the testing, but I've seen him in Geneva a couple of times. I heard he had a good day, and I had no doubts he would be competitive and fast straight away.

Q. Eight top drivers in the four top teams. What do you think of the line up this year?

LH: It couldn't be better really. It should help to give us the best show we've maybe seen in F1. The great thing also in F1 is that they have not changed the rules drastically, so the car should pretty much be evolutions of the previous years - apart from ours which is not an evolution. So hopefully the cars will be much better and a lot closer between the top teams, especially.

Q. Almost every driver today did more than 100 laps. Is that evidence of the tough job that everyone has to do?

LH: This is quite a small, short circuit. A lot of laps here would be 120-130. One hundred laps is quite good, but we could do more. The encouraging thing for us is reliability. We've done two days but I guess you've seen that down the whole pit lane and no one has really had any problems. It is a huge positive for us.

Q. What do you think about the new rule that you have to start the race with the tyres you used in Q3?

LH: It doesn't make much of a difference to me really. There were many times last year when I ran out of option tyres in qualifying, so I started on an old set of tyres. It is not really going to make much difference.

Q. But there will be situations where the guys at the front start on the soft tyre and everyone behind is on the hard?

LH: I think it only may be complicated if there is a huge difference between tyres, but at the moment there isn't. The softer tyre generally only goes off a bit earlier, but there were times last year where I started on a used option tyre and everyone else started on a prime tyre - and it didn't really harm me. I don't think we will see too many problems.

Q. What mark would you give it out of ten today? Seven? Eight? Nine?

LH: Wouldn't you like to know!!!

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