Lewis Hamilton attended the 2022 Australian Grand Prix Friday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the transcript.
Q: Can we kick this off, please with all of your thoughts on racing again in Melbourne. How are you enjoying the vibe?
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, hi, everyone. It’s good to be back, back in this old room. I remember my first… Well, it’s been in the same room since I since I came here in 2007 so it’s great to be back and to see people. The weather’s great today. And yeah, just excited to get on track, especially with all the new changes.
Q: Lewis, can we come back to you? So the question is, will you guys be closer to the front this weekend? Just give us your thoughts on pure performance.
LH: I hope so. I’m really excited to get in the car. Naturally, it’s just been buzzing just trying to… like this morning, just super eager to get in the car, try this new track, hoping that it feels better here this weekend. Ultimately, we’ve not bought any upgrades to the cars – the same car generally as the last race – but with every little race we make small improvements, and I hope it just feels a bit better here. Plus, we had the four DRS zones. I mean, I’m just hoping we can race a harder here.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Silja Rulle – Bild) Yesterday, Volkswagen confirmed that Audi and Porsche are on their way to Formula 1 in 2026. What are your thoughts on that? It’s to all the drivers, please.
LH: I mean I knew about it a long time ago already. So I think it’s great that we’re going to get new manufacturers within the sport, especially as you see there are a lot of teams that have the potential to be top teams, but are our customer teams and so I think it’s going to be great moving forward and so we welcome them in.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) For all five again. We’ve had the announcement that Las Vegas is going to be joining the F1 calendar for next year. Can I get your thoughts on that? And how cool is it to see F1 continuing to expand in the United States?
LH: Yeah, I think it’s great that that we… it’s amazing that we bridge… the relationship that we have now, three races on one continent; I think that’s going to be awesome. I think it’ll be good for the business. I think Vegas will be an awesome addition. I have not seen the track layout so I don’t really know how that will be but just being there and the spectacle and I imagine it probably will be a night race, another night race maybe. Yeah, we welcome it.
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Q: Have you been to Vegas?
LH: I have, yeah. But the one I really want to see is South Africa. That’s the one I want to hear next, that gets announced.
Q: (Paul Gover – carsales.com) Can you explain in a little bit more detail why you’re keen on South Africa joining the series. And now that you’re away from the Middle East, looking back at the politics of it? Obviously we’re on the other side of the world. Can you give us a bit of insight about how you felt about racing in those countries, given the political situation around sport in general, but also sport through Formula 1 going to countries like that?
LH: We’re pretty much on every other continent, so why not? And ultimately, my ancestors are from there so that’s why it is important for me personally. I think it’s important for the sport to go there. If they’re in every other continent, why not? And my position remains pretty much the same for these other places that we visit. What was the question really?
Q: (Paul Gover – carsales.com) How do you feel about – with a little bit of distance and having raced there – that we hear a lot here about the human rights record in the countries that you just been to, and whether or not it’s appropriate for Formula 1 to go there. And what you… I mean, you’ve made statements in the past with the helmet and said things. Now that you’re away from there in a country like Australia, can you give us a little bit more background on how you felt about racing in the Middle East?
LH: I don’t think there’s really much more to add than what I’ve already said, in my stance when I’ve been in those places. Nothing’s changed. I feel exactly the same. I’m sure will.. there’ll be discussions, probably in the background, of how we move forward in a positive way and whether or not we should be in some of the places that we go to, but that’s not my decision at the end of the day.
Q: (Emily Selleck – New York Post) A question to all the drivers that heading to Vegas next year with the popularity of the sport growing in the US how do you feel about three US races, potentially at the expense of some historic European tracks?
YUKI Tsunoda: I think it’s good. I don’t know. I’m not smart to answer. I think it’s good to like America, the country, it’s big. Others? Yeah, I don’t know.
LH: I feel the same as Yuki.
Q: (Angelica Snowden – The Australian) Lewis, you were the first driver in 2020 to say the race should have been cancelled earlier. We’ve had more safety concerns in Jeddah recently. Do you feel that Formula 1 listens to the concerns of drivers and could they do a better job of that?
LH: Well, I mean, if you remember last time we were here, I did mention something, then we didn’t race. I think they did listen then. I think now with Stefano there I think we have someone who has a lot of empathy. He’s got a huge job to do but I think there is a better rapport between the drivers and Formula 1 and so yeah, I think we are working together better than ever. I think ultimately, it benefits all of us to continue to work together to build this sport to be as great as it is but can be even bigger. So that’s what we’ll do.
Q: (Masahiro Owari – Formula Owari) Max. Last year, you will know fighting Lewis and this year so far you are fighting with Charles? How is the difference between them and how you are feeling now? And do you miss to be able to not fighting with Lewis this year?
Max VERSTAPPEN: You know, every driver is of course different to fight against. But also, you know, I grew up with Charles, we are the same age. We already had our battles in go-karting. But yeah, so far. I mean, this year has been good. Last year has been good. You know, we had really a lot of, I think, enjoyable battles. So I just hope of course that it can continue like this.
Q: (Dylan Bolch – Daily Telegraph Sydney) Lewis, how have you found the new dynamic working with George Russell this year?
LH: It’s great. It’s good to be with someone younger, you know, I was just saying earlier on how old Valtteri is. (To Valtteri) You’ve got an old soul. But no, I think George has been great. I think he’s been great for the team. It was obviously an amazing journey that Valtteri and I had working together and George was already a part of the team before that. So it’s been going really well. We were surfing together the other day and, you know, he’s taking to… he’s blended really well into the team.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) In the event notes released yesterday, there’s been a clampdown on the wearing of jewellery, so I guess bracelets, rings, piercings, things like that. Are you guys aware of that? Has F1 spoken to you about any safety concerns that might be… I don’t know how many of you do wear anything like that when you’re in the car?
LH: Well, I’ve got certain piercings that I really just can’t take out that not many people know of. No. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. OK, I mean, it’s been the rule forever. Since I’ve been here, it’s been the rule, so there’s nothing new. I’m just going to come up with more jewellery next week.
MV: Me? I will be too heavy if I wear jewellery. So it’s not possible.
LH: I know you have a nipple-piercing man. Come on.
MV: You want to see it again?
Q: (Silja Rulle – Bild) It’s a question for Lewis: Jacques Villeneuve wrote in a piece that right now George has a bit of an advantage because last year he had a car which was a bit more difficult to handle whereas you had a very well working car during the last years. Would you say or would you agree that you have a bit of a disadvantage right now with a car that has more problems than last year?
LH: No, not really. I find it amusing some of the things that come out of his mouth but… not George. I remember my first go-kart was fifth hand, driven lots of different cars and found myself relatively adaptable, so should be good.