Lewis Hamilton attended the 2023 United States Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: Lewis, can we come to you next. Sorry to kick things off by throwing it back to what was your most frustrating weekend of the season, in Qatar. Your first DNF, your first non-point scoring race. How do you reflect on it?
Lewis HAMILTON: Move forwards. Yeah, just excited to get… You know, the great thing about our sport is that there’s always another day to get back on the horse and just been pushing, moving forwards and nothing I can do about the past. There’s definitely things we can learn from, I can learn from, which I have, and just now focused on getting back in and excited for these next races that come, especially the back-to-backs.
Q: You talk about learning things. After the collision with George, you received a penalty for crossing the track and the FIA is now reviewing this type of infringement. Would you welcome any potential changes?
LH: Well, I mean, they have spoken to me and their actual point is, and I think it’s important, it was just really, when I sat in the meeting, or in the stewards’ office, obviously I put my hands up. In the heat of the moment, it was the wrong decision. And what’s important is to send the right message, particularly for the younger drivers, throughout the ages, that that’s not the thing to do. And I apologised at the time. And I think they’re just looking at how to make sure that doesn’t happen moving forwards.
Q: OK, let’s move forward ourselves. Let’s look at this weekend. You’ve got a new floor on the car. Carlos Sainz was telling us earlier that he thinks you’re going to be very strong this weekend. Just what are you hoping for?
LH: Well, it’s been a huge amount of work back at the factory. This is our last big update, or the biggest of the large updates through the season, and I’m really excited to see how it feels. All the amazing people back at the factory have worked incredibly hard during the whole season and hopefully this really kind of tips the needle a little bit and helps us in the right direction of where we want to pursue next year. But yeah, I don’t know exactly all the different parts of the circuit that I’ll feel it. But hopefully it’s a global improvement and hopefully puts us a little bit closer to the guys ahead.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Lewis, a question for you. Let’s go back to Qatar. While I understand why the FIA would look into their processes and would want to examine whether they could have done better with that incident, what I didn’t get was why they needed to speak to you again, given that you’d apologised and held your hands up at the time? Do you understand why the FIA would want to speak to you again? Or do you think because of your status as the most high-profile driver in the sport at the moment you’re singled out a little bit by the governing body for wanting to speak to you on this matter?
LH: No, I don’t think I was singled out. I think, ultimately, it was just poor communication. I don’t think what they had said is exactly what they meant. I think what they mean is that they’re just going to look into how they can tackle those sorts of things moving forwards to make sure that it doesn’t happen. And I mean, if you look at it, I think there was a karting incident recently where a kid was hit. So we really need to make sure that we’re continuously focusing on safety. And I think that’s really at the core, at the root of it, but I just think they probably need to speak to their PR agent to do a better job.
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Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) A question to all drivers, please. The FIA have announced today that the fine drivers can receive has been increased from €250,000 to €1,000,000. I just want to get your response to that, please. And if that sum – I’m guessing some of you didn’t know – if that sum would make you think twice – I mean, I know you don’t do it deliberately – but if it would make you think twice before committing an offence?
LH: Similar to the guys. It’s the first time I’ve heard of it. So I’m not really sure what it’s referring to exactly. I think we need to… when it comes to things like this I really do think we need to be thinking about the message that this sends out to those that are watching. If they are going to fining people a million, let’s make sure one hundred per cent of that goes to a cause. There’s a lot of money in this whole industry and a lot more that we need to do in terms of creating better accessibility, better diversity, more opportunities for people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to get into a sport like this. So many causes around the world. That’s the only way they’ll get that million from me.
Q: (Elizabeth Blackstock – Jalopnik) Lewis, I have a question for you. You’ve seen the ebb and flow of the popularity of motorsport, and especially F1, as it stands in America. We’ve had this recent growth spurt. How do we sustain that – and is this a lot different than what you’ve seen in the past?
LH: Well, thank you for the question. I mean, it’s a very good question. I would probably be running the sport if I knew all the answers to that – but I think it’s continuing to engage with the outside world and, and as I was mentioned before, really creating more accessibility. I think before, when I used to come out to the States, like 2007, the first time out here, and for many, many years, every time we stepped for that one race, that sometimes did and sometimes didn’t happen in the years, you always find yourself just repeating yourself, educating. I couldn’t fully understand when I went to NFL games, NBA games, seeing how passionate the Americans are about sport, how they hadn’t yet caught the bug that many of us grew up catching when we were younger. And so it’s been really, really amazing to see that so many, the whole country, really, a large portion of the country is now speaking about it. People own simulators, everyone wants to be a driver! So, it’s been great to see. And I think we have to continue to look at what is next. I think having the three races out here in such a huge nation, I think is massively helpful. This is one of my favourite tracks, actually. Often when they build new circuits, they’re not really like the classics. But this is a classic from the get-go. And it’s one that enables us to have great races. And, you know, when you got up to up to Turn 1, you see that huge crowd, it’s really quite amazing. So, it’ll be interesting to see… I think, within our sport, we have to continue to work on making sure we’re having close racing, because I think you’ve seen the social engagement drop a huge amount this year being that… so, it’s obviously heavily impacted on competition. People want to see that. So, we have to make sure that we’re making the right decisions, or the governing body is making the right decisions, to keep us close and great racing right to the end. We need to more grandstands. I don’t know whether we need to lower the cost but maybe, I don’t know. And then just looking in these different places, making sure that when we go into these different countries, we’re working also on the impact, not just a circus that arrives and leaves a mess behind. But looking at how we can really leave a legacy behind in each of these places that we go to.
Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Lewis to follow up on Elizabeth’s question about F1 in the United States, can I get your thoughts on what both Las Vegas as a race, and also the movie you’re working on are going to do for F1 in the US and taking things more mainstream?
LH: Actually, I should have actually mentioned that before. The movie is a huge step in that direction of broadening the horizon. I think that’s really part of the new leadership, with Liberty, with the great work that Stefano and Greg are doing in being open to trying new things. And the fact that we’re allowed to do this movie, and have the concessions in terms of allowing an extra team being on track and filming with these film stars is… it’s never been done before. And it’s great that we are embarking on things that we’ve never done before. And I think honestly, I really think they’re doing an amazing job. Vegas is… there’s going to be a huge spotlight on Vegas. And that will play an important part of our movie also, which we’re really just working as hard as we can to make sure that it’s a true reflection of this legendary sport. Both the old and the new. And also Miami, we’ve got these great cities here, with amazing fan bases in each of them, all providing a different atmosphere. I always felt that we needed more than one race here because the complaint was always people having to get up at 4 or 5AM or something, in the middle of the night to watch a Grand Prix. So, it’s really difficult to get into it. And then also, it’s only coming to the country once a year. So, I think this is really enabling it to be something with a buzz that’s continuing. But we do have to continue to grow. And I think the movie particularly is going to help do that. It is the only truly international or global sport. And so we need to educate more and more people in it. There’s still many people out there we’ve got to get to catch the bug. And there’s plenty of growing to do.