Lewis Hamilton attended the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: Lewis, if I could come to you, next, please. When you think of the battles you’ve had with Sebastian over the years, what comes to mind?
Lewis HAMILTON: When I think of Seb… he was a bit of a nuisance back then!
Sebastian VETTEL: I’m actually quite sorry… it’s your answer but I think Baku wasn’t a great moment, because what I did wasn’t right. But actually from that moment onwards…
LH: …Our friendship got better!
SV: Yeah, a lot better. So I don’t want that moment to… not happen, if you see what I mean!
LH: I agree. We always had such great battles, honestly, and I was just thinking, most drivers are coming back. He’s come back [Alonso], you’re probably going to come back. We’re seeing other drivers coming back, so I’m sitting here accepting, yes, it’s your last race… but… He’ll be back. Formula 1 has a way of sucking you back in. We’ve noticed that from so many other drivers. No?
SV: Maybe we can make a deal. We’ll speak outside, when you want to get away, maybe I want to come back!
LH: And just swap. Alternate.
Q: Lewis, let’s talk about Mercedes now. You guys were extremely quick in Brazil. Do you think you can repeat that level of performance here?
LH: Who knows? We are still improving the car. We don’t believe that this track will necessarily be our strongest. We think it’s suited to the others a little bit better, but I won’t know ‘til I get out there, to be honest. I hope that it’s like the last race.
Q: Final one from me. I know how much you’re into statistics, but this is your 200th race with Mercedes, how time flies?
LH: Yeah. I was just thinking of the first race we had here in 2009, which I think Seb… actually it was one of the races we were competing in again, which Seb won. But, yeah, it’s been an amazing journey, one that I’m incredibly honoured to have been on with Mercedes. And it’s, I think, it’s one of the longest standing drivers with a team? So, proud of that. Shows loyalty continues to be at the core of one of the many pillars of the values that we have as a team and looking forward to extending.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Question to Lewis. Not just one of the longest associations with a team, you’re the first driver to start 200 races for the same team. So, congratulations on that. Can we just reflect for a few moments on your 177TH(sic) start for Mercedes, and that was here last year. What do you remember about that last lap from a sporting context? Because, for all the controversy, it was one of the most dramatic laps we’ve ever had in Formula 1. What do you remember about the fight with Max? The battle? And what are your thoughts coming back here to Abu Dhabi 12 months on?
LH: I don’t really think about it, so I don’t really have many thoughts on the last race here. I’ve had many great experiences here in the previous years. Even from the first race that I had here in 2009, which was the hybrid era in which I was leading and had the brake failure, which was… I remember the feeling of having to retire in that race. So I’ve had lots of ups and downs at this race. And, yeah, just I’m not really necessarily focused on stuff that it’s behind me, and more so trying to… not control but trying to be the best I can move forwards and the days ahead. And again, just as I said, just really proud. It’s crazy that I’ve been with Mercedes. They started with me when I was 13 in 1997, so it’s been a long journey with them.
Q: Did you ever watch the last lap back again. Did you ever think to yourself, ‘I’ll have a little look, see where I could have held him off, if it was possible.’
LH: I don’t look in the past and try and think of what I could have done better necessarily, in that respect, no.
Q: (David Tremayne – Grand Prix Plus) For Lewis, just a quick look back to last weekend. Did you have damage on your car. I read something about possibly the front of the floor – and if so, what affect did that have on it?
LH: Honestly, I haven’t checked. So, I think I was quite lucky that there wasn’t really a huge amount of damage. I don’t really know how there wasn’t damage, obviously, because it was a decent knock. I think I lost one of the wheel-shield things, which I think lost a little bit performance. But obviously with the next tyre change that came back. The team have not told me that there was anything particular, so I don’t think I was down.
Q: (David Schneider – Hersey Shiga Global) I think around two weeks ago, you published a photo of Yuki when he was, I think, five years old. What was the reason behind it?
LH: Shoot, I don’t really remember. I just thought it was a really funny picture. I mean, just sitting here, we’ve got the three oldest drivers here. And then you are the youngest here. How old are you?
Yuki TSUNODA: 22.
LH: Are you really 22?
YT: I don’t know. Sometimes I also have questions about it as well.
LH: It’s good to have a good fake ID. But no, it was just a funny picture just to think of how time travels and yeah, jeez, we’ve been here for a long time.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis I know you don’t like going back to 12 months ago, but I just wondered how much you’ve changed as a person as a result of that? Has it changed your attitude to racing, confidence within the organisation, attitude to F1 or anything else?
LH: I don’t think so. I think at the beginning maybe but yeah, I think my love for the sport is still the same. And I think my commitment and time here hopefully is showing that. I think it’s just been a much, much different year, one that naturally none of us in the team expected. And it’s taught us lessons that we, again, hadn’t realised that we didn’t have or hadn’t experienced in the past. And I think it’s just made us stronger. I think it’s been a really positive year in that respect.
Q: (Pranav Prasanna – Talk 100.3 Radio) You’re a seven times world champion. What keeps the fire going on inside you to continue in Formula 1. And there was a mention of your record of starts as well. So just a few words on that?
LH: What keeps me going? I don’t know. It’s a question I have myself probably. Maybe it’s that Fernando and Seb are still here. But now obviously we’re going to be losing Seb. I don’t know. I think I still love what I’m doing. I still love the challenge every year trying to evaluate at the end where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, leave the crap behind and then you know take the good bits forward. How can you evolve to be better each time? How can you be healthier? How can you expand your mind and your body and spirit, so that I’m fully focused on doing that all the time. And yeah, we’re talking about the adrenaline rush. I mean, naturally, we’re all adrenaline seekers, and I don’t think that’s… I’m sure Seb’s going to have to find something else because I think driving the farm truck is not going to bring that! Your tractor, you said you had a tractor. Maybe he’ll come skydiving with me. I tried to talk him into it, but he said he’s got kids, so it’s probably not going to happen…