Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan GP Friday Press Conference

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Lewis Hamilton attended the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Friday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!

Q: Lewis, thanks for waiting. Now there’s a feeling that Mercedes are going to be more competitive here. What’s your take on it?

Lewis HAMILTON: Where’s that feeling coming from?

Q: The mood from the paddock… actually no, George was… 

LH: I love that, this collective positive mood from everyone. I hope that’s the case! Lots of work is going on. I’m hoping that it’s not as bumpy as Monaco but we’ll find out when we get out there today. And yeah, like everyone was saying, lower downforce should be better. I hope so.

Q: Does the layout of this track play to the cars’ strengths more than somewhere like Monaco?

LH: Not particularly, but yeah, when you talk about cars’ strengths, it’s… I don’t know which ones we can align to. We’re obviously stronger on a smoother circuit. Barcelona was a lot better for us, for example. So there’s more open circuits that aren’t as bumpy. This is a bumpier circuit so not necessarily great for the characteristics within our car, but it might be smoother than… as I said might be smooth and might be okay.

Q: Okay, best of luck on track. Just a couple of off track questions from me. There were reports that you’re going to co-produce a Formula 1 film starring Brad Pitt. What can you tell us?

LH: Yes. I mean I can’t really say too much about it because it’s not even… I don’t know if it’s been properly announced yet but it’s something we’re working on in the background and a super-exciting project, long time in the waiting. And I can’t really say much more, I guess, about it.

Q: Will you feature in it? 

LH: I don’t plan to be in it, no.

Q: Any idea when filming will begin?

LH: I can’t give you that information just yet. But it’s a really cool project and we’re already working on a script, for example. I’m very much involved in the script, which is fun and spending good time with Brad, which is pretty epic, and seeing his progress. And I guess really from my responsibility and something  that I take on is just making sure that the cast and the crew in the background is diverse, is something I’m really highlighting at the beginning. And then just making sure that know… it’s been a… it’s a very difficult… If you look at all the racing movies… I can’t necessarily say that all the recent movies that have been in the past have been spectacular and that’s something we want to change. And it’s really about showing how great this sport really is to people that maybe have never watched it, but also making sure that we really keep the real heritage and the true racing spirit within the movie, and within the scripts. So that’s kind of my… part of my role.

Q: And one final one, you can become an honorary Brazilian citizen after a bill was passed on the subject in Parliament. Can we get your thoughts on that? How does it make you feel? 

LH: It’s very surreal and what a huge honour it is. Surprised like everyone else yesterday when I heard about it. No one contacted me and told me. We just heard about it in the news. So I don’t think I’ve ever really heard of anyone else being… I’ve not heard of that happening. I’m sure it maybe does in other places. But Brazil has always been a place that I’ve loved and admired as a kid. Obviously, following Ayrton you naturally are drawn to the country, but through my life just meeting more and more Brazilian and knowing more about the culture and the community and it’s very, very diverse there, there’s a lot of energy, music, colour and I’ve had some… just over the years, just amazing times there. Obviously won my first World Championship in Brazil. And to then 14 years later whatever it is, the epic race that I had there last year, and the moment I had with the Brazilian flag, so I’m really… that’s my like biggest following is in Brazil, so I’m very, very honoured and grateful and can’t wait to spend more time there.

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Q: (Claire Cottingham – Racefans.net) A question for Lewis but maybe for Sebastian as well if he’s got something to add. The FIA president has recently mentioned some comments about imposing your beliefs in the sport, mentioning about human rights and also mentioning about diversity and things like that. He has clarified some of the comments but I just wondered about your thoughts on it when maybe you saw them yesterday? And if it kind of goes against the fight that you’re trying to do when it comes from the top in that sort of way in the sport that you’re so passionate about?

LH: I only heard about it this morning. I’ve not read it so I don’t really know all that there has been said. I’m also aware that sometimes I’ve been take… things that I’ve said have been taken out of context and so I want to give that… that maybe has happened, I don’t know. But it’s… I heard that he clarified things on social media which is positive. And that doesn’t stop us from doing what we’re doing. The sport is continuously growing. We have a bigger audience than ever before. I think it’s gone up like 9 percent I think it is this year or something. And it continues to be an important platform to use our voices, every single one of us here within the industry, within our companies to do more to speak out more on things, to spark more conversations and just look now for example, I’m really proud of what we’re doing and Mercedes with our pride month, our pride star on the car, which is like the first time I’ve seen that during my time at Mercedes which is amazing.  Just shows up… you know, we have over 100,000 people within Mercedes Benz and creating a more inclusive environment is so important and focusing on creating better diversity within your organisation, but also so important within the sport. It’s moving at a very slow pace and we need more people to utilise their platform. So I encourage all the drivers to be more outspoken in future and speak about things they care about. And I’m proud to see what Seb does and to be an ally of his.

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I think Lewis summed it up really well. I don’t think there’s much point going into what has been said but I think what I would like to say is that the topics that Lewis is continuing to raise, the issues Lando has been talking about, and I think stuff that I’ve been mentioning, I believe… I feel they are topics that are very important to be addressed. And they are bigger than us, bigger than a sport can ever be, so I think, yeah, it is important to mention those, to express those and to raise awareness, to make people aware that there’s still lots of things that we can improve on.

Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Lewis, George, in a previous press conference talked about how the updates of this car give it a lot more potential than perhaps in Bahrain, where the car was maxed out. Obviously, you want those good results to come. But are you excited by the journey, the process of getting there as much as what might lie on the horizon?

LH: I mean, the car wasn’t maxed out in Bahrain but we were very limited with what we could do, in a sense of not knowing what was causing the problem and therefore you can’t manoeuvre into a direction if you don’t know where it’s coming from. So yes, our new… the new direction that we’ve got to in  Barcelona has given us a more of a direction to go in and it’s been positive, I would say, so far. It’s not working everywhere but it’s.. can I say it’s the best process… most exciting journey? No, but it is an experience, it’s bringing the team closer, it’s making us all having to sharpen our tools. The technology is advancing a lot, to be able to understand it. And so it’s…  and we’re pulling closer than ever before so I think we’re a more tight unit team than we’ve ever been. And I guess that’s what happens when you’re faced with adversity. And so there’s lots and lots of positives from it.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) I just wanted to get your honest assessment please. How satisfied and how much trust do you currently have in the FIA President and the Race Stewards and Race Director to keep making the correct decisions if indeed they are making the right decision? Just your assessment on how well this sport is run at the moment with regards to the FIA?

LH: Yeah, I really don’t have much to say. I would just listen to what people are saying. Yeah, we have to have confidence that they’re…  that they will continue to make progress. I think it’s about collaboration, so I generally think that there’s been… that a good job has been done so far. I think it will get better with… particularly, you know, we are trying to work with the FIA and I think for Mohammed, I think it’s a huge role, big shoes to fill, and I think we just need to give him time. There’s a lot that he wants to do, and lots of things that he wants to change and I believe, from what he’s told us. that he will do those.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race)  Next year was the suggested implementation for a potential driver salary cap. It looks like if that’s going to happen, it’s going to be pushed down the road a little bit further. It sounds like a really complex issue. One of the issues, in addition to obviously, you guys and your earnings, is something that Lando, Max and Valtteri and a few others have talked about, which is that there could be a knock-on effect for younger drivers, lower in junior categories because if there’s a potential salary cap, then the people that would invest money in these drivers’ careers might be put off investing if they’re worried that there’s going to be a limit on the returns that they will get at the end, if they’re going to take a percentage from drivers’ earnings. Do you think that’s a legitimate point to make when a driver salary cap is being discussed? 

LH: It’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t really have all the facts. And I don’t really… have not really spent time thinking too much about it. So I can’t give you a factual answer on what is right or wrong. I think there is some merit in what Geroge [sic] has expressed. I think there’s many of us that have been here who have had been heavily invested in as youngsters and have had to pay that back which you would naturally want to do anyway. And so that, for sure, could be impacted in the future for the younger generation. Also, we have to remember that this sport has gone from what is it, like a $4-$6 billion business to a $14 billion dollar business. It’s consistently growing, the teams are earning more money than ever before. So… and we are a huge part of that. And so… look, I won’t be here for like a huge amount longer but I do think about the next the younger generation and I don’t feel that they should be kept.

Q: (Abhishek Takle – Midday) Lewis, would you consider inviting any of your fellow colleagues to appear in your movie, and to the other drivers would you be up for trying out your acting skills? 

LH: I don’t know. We’re going to need drivers, I’m sure, at some stage so I was, I think… what’s really important is that it’s not my movie, it’s Formula 1 so it’s for all of us. And so there’s lots of people within the sport who are being a part of this, helping educate those who are trying to create this movie. So it’s going include lots and lots of people. And there’s always this talk of already how are we going to capture some of the footage and it’s going to take us drivers to be involved in that. But we’re not actors so we don’t want this movie to be crap. So it wasn’t putting bad actors in, so yeah, which is probably why I’m not going be a part of it also. We need some good actors.

Source: FIA.com

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