Lewis Hamilton attended the 2023 Sao Paulo Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: Lewis coming to you. So, just how special is this Brazilian Grand Prix weekend for you. You’re an honorary citizen. You have a great record here at Interlagos. Senna, of course, was a hero. In fact, I love the outfit that you came to the track in today. Just tell us a little bit about what this race means to you?
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, so it’s been a special race for me. I mean, I won my first World Championship here. It was kind of crazy back then, because I kind of felt like public enemy number one. Obviously, I was racing against Felipe. But the growth that I’ve felt here and the reception that I’ve had here, the amazing support… But I mean just as a kid, growing up at home, being a fan of football, for example. Always loved the Brazilian colours. And me and my brother would play FIFA, for example, and he would always take England, so I’d always take Brazil. And then there was Ayrton Senna, as Charles mentioned, who was just such a big hero for so many of us. And when you come out here, you really feel his presence. And it’s just such a beautiful culture. And the track is iconic. You know, they don’t build circuits like this anymore. So it’s a race that I think all the drivers really love. It’s a race that it’s fun to drive a single lap but the races are very strong here, you’ve got that long straight which you can overtake on and the follow through, Turns 1, 2 and 3 and then have a fight down to Turn 4 so a good overtaking place as well.
Q: And given your podium last weekend, given the pace of the car here, with the 1-2 last year, what are your expectations for this weekend?
LH: I don’t really know. I expect the Red Bull to be very fast, as always! It seems to work pretty much everywhere, except for Singapore. And we expect the Ferraris to be quick. I hope that our car works well here like it did in Austin but you can just never predict – it could be bad, it could be good. So we’re just trying to prepare the best way we can.
Q: And how do you see the fight in the Constructors’ Championship between Mercedes and Ferrari? You’ve got the advantage by 22 points at the moment.
LH: Yeah. It’s a really fun, enjoyable battle and these guys did a great job in qualifying at the last race but fortunately we were able to leapfrog them but I think it’s going to be close. And these last three races, it’s going just take all hands on deck to stop these guys.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Naomi Schiff – SkySports F1) My question is to all of the drivers. I asked the same question to the last group of drivers that were in here. We’re heading into the last and final sprint of the season. There were some mixed feelings about it both on the grid and off the grid. I’d love to get all of your reflections on it?
LH: Yeah, I feel pretty much the same as these guys. Saturday’s not the greatest of days, but I like the single practice session straight into qualifying. I think we can learn. I love that we do have a different format, rather than just the same three practice sessions and then the qualifying and the race. But the best Sprint race I ever had was when I started last and so I’m in favour of the reverse order, except if we had that then everyone will just try and qualify last! But I think it maybe should be a little bit longer the Sprint race because it’s something like 19 laps or something.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Valtteri, Lewis and Carlos, just following on from that thread about Sprint races and reverse grids and whatever, where would you guys like to see resources focused to make F1 as good as it can be, like one fell swoop? Would you change… make the cars smaller? Lewis, you mentioned about track design, can this be mega, change in the format? What’s the one area you guys would pick to make F1 mega overnight basically?
LH: I don’t really have an interesting answer for you. I’ve not sat down and thought ‘this is how you can make the sport better’. I think it would be it would take a lot of work. I agree with some of the things that Valtteri said, but yeah I don’t have a solution for it just yet.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, I know you said that the Mercedes is isn’t always easy to predict but given that Mercedes won here last year, obviously you had a great drive here a couple of years ago. Do you think that this is your best chance this year to win, to ensure you don’t go a season without winning?
LH: I said it’s not easy to predict. I really don’t know. After the last couple of races, you get messages from people like ‘oh, it’s looking good’. I’m like ‘it was looking good at the end of last year, too’. But we started 1.5 seconds behind at the start of the year. So I’m not dazzled by where we are currently. I’m proud… the only reason I’m on the podium is the great work that’s gone in the background, but I’m more thinking quite long-term at the moment. And then short-term just trying to solidify second in the Constructors’ because that’s so important for everyone within the team. But I anticipate the Red Bulls are going to blitz it because their car has been great but if that’s not the case, then I’ll be ready to take the fight to them. If it can be anything like Austin and we can get the strategy better than that would be incredible. And I came away empty handed last year, so I don’t plan on that this year.
Q: (Felipe Mendes – Estado de SP) It’s a question for all of you. I would like to know your opinion about Felipe Mass’s quest for the 2008 title.
Carlos SAINZ: I don’t think.
LH: I honestly pay no attention to it. So I don’t really… also the same.
Q: Has anyone got anything they would like to say? No? Let’s move on.