Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

Conducted and provided by Vodafone

Q & A with Lewis Hamilton

McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton faces one final challenge before he lines up for the 2010 Australian Grand Prix when he sails the Spirit yacht on Sydney Harbour.

With the iconic Sydney Harbour as the backdrop, and guided by 10-time world champion yachtsman, Iain Murray, the 2008 Formula 1 world champion will be handed the reins as he entertains invited guests and tests his skills on former America's Cup yacht Spirit.

Hamilton gave the following interview to Vodafone after the event.

Q. Welcome to Sydney. How are you enjoying it so far?

Lewis Hamilton: It's great to be here. I arrived at 6 o'clock this morning from the States. It's my first time in Sydney so I'm really happy to be here. Unfortunately, I'm only here for a few hours but I've been out on the harbour already so I feel I've seen a lot already.

Q. How does it rate being behind the wheel of a yacht compared to a Formula 1 car?

LH: I've had a little bit of experience before sailing. In 2008 with Hugo Boss I sailed around the Isle of Wight in a yachting event for four hours and we won. But we got disqualified at the end because we crashed at the beginning. But that wasn't when I was driving. It was great to be on the harbour today and back on one of those boats again. I have an understanding how to steer them so I had some fun. But it is nothing like a Formula 1 car. Nothing is like that.

Q. What better place, than Sydney Harbour on a yacht, than to spend your first few hours in this city?

LH: Absolutely. When I was flying over this morning I was wondering if I was arriving in the right place. I only know Australia to have clear blue skies and there was a lot of cloud as we were coming in to land. But it's cleared up and it's beautiful, and a beautiful day on the harbour.

Q. I want to ask you about last year. You were in a pretty bad place last year and you wouldn't necessarily like to remember it. But you have said it was an incredible year and a year that threw up a lot of challenges. What's the feeling going into this year?

LH: I've always had great experiences here and I don't look at last year's experience as a bad one. I look at it as a stepping stone in my life and something I learned a whole lot from. Every time I've come here, my first year in Melbourne I got a first podium position in my first grand prix. In 2008 I came here and I won.

Last year, don't forget I had a great race. I came from dead last on the grid up into fourth place. So it was still a good experience. 2009 was a tough year altogether. I learned a lot throughout about team building and lifting up the team. The team does so much but at the end of the day I'm the one who has to jump in and get the results for the team.

Q. Speaking of teams, let's speak about your team-mate, Jenson Button. How does it work in the team with such rivalry?

LH: The thing is I've had different experiences with different team-mates. Some you have an aggressive tension between, where clearly you want to beat each other. You always want to beat each other.

But with Jenson we are more just chilled friends outside of the car. Of course we want to beat each other but we are professionals. We know once the other one alongside you does well, it makes you pull your socks up. But there is a good feeling in the team. I feel privileged. I have a world champion alongside me.

Q. How do you think Michael Schumacher will go? Do you think he is past it?

LH: No. The standard is still the same. Maybe a little better now than when he was last racing. But if he has a car to win he will have the chance to win.

Q. You've had the success in Formula 1. Did it sour those memories what happened last year?

LH: Not at all. Being a racer you're always looking forward. When you're in a race car travelling at 200mph you have to look far, far forward. And I approach my life day by day. We are in the fast lane. It goes by fast and you have to be ready for what is coming up. Not what has happened in the past.

Q. Will your car better suit the Melbourne circuit than it did in Bahrain?

LH: Sometimes your car suits it better than others. This circuit should work to the strengths of our car. We feel stronger coming in to this race and hopefully we can get more points - for myself and Jenson. We do have a chance of winning this weekend. And hopefully we'll be able to get that edge.

Q. Do you think the Red Bulls are the fastest?

LH: Yes.

Q. Given that, is this Mark Webber's best year to win in Melbourne?

LH: Yes. The car was phenomenally quick the last race and last year they did an incredible job. They have had a tough few years as a team but they have two extremely talented drivers now and Mark is at his fittest and best.

Q. Do you expect better racing in Melbourne than what we saw in Bahrain?

LH: There is always good racing in Melbourne. There should be slightly better racing. It is an extremely special circuit, Albert Park is very unique. I love street circuits. It is always very green at the start of the week, but as the race goes on the grip picks up and it is great to race on. The fans are fantastic. Turn 3 you have the trees going by and you really feel like you are driving in a park. The weather is always fantastic.

Q. Were you happy with your third place in Bahrain?

LH: I was very happy. In general you shouldn't be happy with anything but first, but I was so proud of the team for what we did. Clearly I want to keep moving forward but if you win the first race, where do you go from there? So I'm kind of happy we got third. We can move forward.

Q. How confident are you of improving on your third place?

LH: Confidence is something you build on. I don't want to come here and say 'yeah we're going to win'. I feel confident, I have a great strong team behind me and Jenson goes well here in Australia. So I'm confident we can go better.

Q. What, if anything, will you and the team be looking at doing different this time out?

LH: Win. We will be looking at winning rather than coming third. Bit by bit we will look at improving and growing with the car. We've learned a lot from the first race and we can bring that here to Melbourne.

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