Lewis Hamilton at the French GP Thursday Press Conference

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

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

Q: Well, this weekend, do you think you can join the party at the front?

Lewis HAMILTON: I hope so. That’s what we’re all working towards.

Q: Big weekend for you in terms of numbers. Many congratulations on what will be your 300th Grand Prix?

LH: I didn’t even know that.

Q: Well, how does that make you feel?

LH: It doesn’t make any difference? I feel great.

Q: It’s a lot of Grands Prix. What? What advice would the Lewis Hamilton have today give the Lewis Hamilton lining up on the grid in Melbourne back in 2007?

LH: I really don’t know if I’m honest. Have a deep conversation, probably. I don’t know. Just enjoy. Just make the most of time. Time is so precious. And I think naturally when you’re a little bit younger, you feel like you’re going to live forever and that you’ve got all the time in the world. And I would just say time is precious so just maximise every moment you get with family with friends, create memories, that’s the most important thing. And don’t stress too much.

Q: Final one from me. Can I just explore your potential this weekend a little bit more, because on paper, people within your team are saying that this could be a little bit better for you guys. Is that what you’re expecting?

LH: Well, every weekend we are hoping to improve for sure. And I really don’t know what to expect this weekend. We have things that we’re trying to… We’re constantly making changes to the car, the aero forces and everything like that. So, the aero surfaces. So I’m hoping that we discover something this weekend that helps us creep a little bit further forward. But in general, this has been a decent race for us. So I hope it’s the same this weekend.

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Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Lewis, it is congratulations, reaching 300. You are the sixth driver in F1 history to do that. On the downside, no driver has gone beyond 300 and won a race, including the chap sat to our left there as well. And you’ve never gone this far into a season without winning a race. And I wondered, do you think about that? Is that something that exercises your mind? Or do you know something about the Mercedes coming up that we don’t? Or is that something that you don’t dwell on, in terms of you being the only driver to have at least one win in every season that you’ve competed in Formula 1?

LH: It doesn’t faze me because I’m working towards getting that win. So I do believe at some stage we’ll be able to compete with these guys. Whether it’s this weekend, or in five races time. So yeah, I don’t really think about that. I think more about the journey. The journey is the important part. I think we started off not where we want it to be, we’ve made progress, we started to reach a patch of a bit of consistency. Not a single person in our team has given up, and we’ve continued to push. So I’m really proud of the process and experience that we’ve had. It’s definitely not the… Entering into season it’s not necessarily the one you would ask for but if anything it’s been a really valuable lesson learned for all of us, and experience. I think we’ve sharpened our tools in lots of other areas. So that when we do get back to where I feel like we deserve to be then I think we will appreciate it that much more.

Q: (Amanda Irene Curi – Motorlat.com) Lewis, you faced some challenges earlier this season. Now you have three consecutive podiums in the last three races; are you finally feeling more comfortable in the W13? And do you think you and the team can continue to build on this progress and possibly win a race this season?

LH: It’s been really positive to have some consistency come back in, as I was saying earlier, and bit by bit you’re getting a little bit more comfortable in the car. And also with the direction where you set the car up… where you position the car, what the car will accept? Obviously it bit me in the last race with the crash in qualifying but otherwise, as I said, we’re constantly adding performance, we’re constantly progressing forwards and there’s a lot to come in the next races. So I’m excited about that and as I said, in the last race we were only a few tenths off the lead guys in qualifying so I think slowly we’re getting closer. The gap may be bigger in some tracks, who knows, but… in the last race, I was seeing it on TV, as I said, the battle up ahead, I hope that I get to be a bit more in the battle sometime soon.

Q: (Thierry Wilmotte – Le Soir) A question for all of you: as you know probably the French and the Belgian Grands Prix are under threat to not be on the calendar next year. If you would have the word to the promoter, what should be your choice: Belgium or France and why?

LH: Honestly, I don’t have a…

Fernando ALONSO: France?

LH: Honestly, don’t really… I’m not bothered either way to be honest. I would say Spa has the history, it has probably in the past has had the bigger crowd but I think they’ve just made amendments there as well so the racing is probably a little bit better there. But they’re both great circuits and this is a beautiful part of the world as well. So I don’t necessarily see a reason to lose either.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Fernando, I just wanted to reflect on Lewis’s 300th race. Obviously, you were with him at McLaren for race one. So how have you seen him evolve over all those years, all those races? And looking back at 2007, did you think he would then go on to win all those championships and all those races? And just one for Lewis: do you have a standout memory from the previous 299 Grand Prix?

FA: So yeah, what to say? I don’t think that he changed much to be honest. He had the talent, already in 2007 and he still have the talent now with experience and he has been a tremendous driver, and a legend of our sport. So it has been always a pleasure to share all this time with him and back then probably no one thought that someone will be able to win seven titles as Michael. But yeah, the journey has been amazing and the team that they all build at Mercedes over these years, he was outstanding. Yes, congratulations for the 300 and hopefully another win soon.

LH: Thank you for the kind words. Standout? I think it’s difficult to say. Your first Grand Prix is always going to be one and the first win, I would say probably those two, or your homegrown Grand Prix as well. Maybe those three are probably the most standout ones, 2008 and 2007, just because it’s the whole realisation of reaching your dream is a very, very surreal experience and it is always going to be your first – there’s only one first. And so just getting to the first Grand Prix in 2007… the amount of sleepless nights as a family that all of us had had, not knowing whether or not we would actually reach our goal, reach our dream, but never giving up nonetheless and being there so I think that’s probably going to be the real highlight.

Q: (Niharika Ghorpade – Sporstkeeda) To all five drivers, we’ve seen a lot of negativity in the fan bases in the last year and a half so as drivers, who are the primary influences of the sport, do you think at some point it will be important that for drivers to intervene?

LH: I mean I am so… I’m doing the most I can. I don’t know what else I can do. But I do think it’s all of our responsibility to do something, not only us, the sport, those that are coming that write and report what is happening here, the sport wouldn’t be what it is without you. And your words are powerful and you have a responsibility also to the readers to make sure that we’re progressing and moving in the right direction. Formula 1 continuously needs to do more, all the teams need to do more. I think we are very close to getting this diversity inclusion charter going and I think it’s still one team – still the same team – is not willing to engage but I’m grateful to see the other teams are willing to step forward and do the work.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Just going back to this 300 thing that we’re trying to build a piece about: toughest opponent that you came up against during those previous races, if you could name one or two who would you say was the toughest? And I’m just keen to just to follow up: you mentioned that a team hasn’t signed your initiative. I just wondered would you be prepared to name them and say why you think that they haven’t signed the initiative when everyone else has signed it?

LH: I don’t think it’d be appropriate to name the team. We’ve gone back and forth to them and for some reason they don’t want to but all the other nine teams have which is really encouraging. And in terms of… I think it’s difficult to say who’s necessarily been the strongest competitor, I think, because every time you’re with someone you’re in a different place in your life so… I remember the task of being alongside Fernando when I was 22. I was so young mentally and of course, okay in terms of skill but it’s a lot of pressure to go against a great like him so I would say out of pure pace I think… I always say it’s Fernando and ability. We had some good battles, I wish we could have more and hopefully he’s going to continue to race so hopefully we will have more in the future.

Q: (Sándor Mészáros – AutoSport ES Formula) To all of you guys: next weekend, you will come to race in Hungary and I’m just wondering that based on the experiences of the first half of the season with these new cars, what kind of racing do you expect on the tight and twisty and very technical Hungaroring?

LH: Can we make sure that we don’t have a question for all five? Every time it’s so long. I love Budapest, it’s a great city. I say it every year. It’s a fantastic city, architecture is incredible. Good food, and we have a massive turnout of fans there. I’ve got a great… some of the most loving fan base there that from the moment you touch the ground to the moment you leave they’re with you all the way.

Q: And do you think the racing with the ‘22 cars will be closer there, better there?

LH: We’ve seen that so far this year, so I hope so. Yeah. It’s a great surface, it’s such a wicked track.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Yeah, just to follow up on a question about fan abuse. And I’m going to ask it to all five because of the seriousness of the subject. So drivers are doing their part, the media can do their part. What do you hope that Formula 1 can do more? Should there for example, be announcements before races, like they do in football stadiums, for example, asking fans to show respect? Is that something that can be done do you think?

LH: Well, firstly, I don’t think we should just be saying this is Formula 1’s problem, I think it’s all of us. And going back to when I mentioned that Silverstone, just amplifying voices that are not aligned with ours, who have undertones of discrimination, we should not be amplifying those voices. Because, they like to create a divide, just to be able to get their names in the papers so that’s just a pointless exercise. I think Formula 1 100% should continue to do more. In the previous years we had the whole We Race As One thing, but that really was just a lip service that we’re not… we need to do more. And I know Formula 1 and Stefano are really focused on doing more and definitely taking it seriously this year, with the last race. But we can always do more, everyone can do more. Every team, every company here can do more. It’s about accountability. God knows, there must be a thousand partners, I guess, within the Formula 1 organisation probably, or hundreds maybe and it’s about accountability with all those. What are they doing in their space in terms of… everyone should be pushing for diversity, inclusion and the messaging that we all use with our platforms. We can all do more. I think football has done some positive things in terms of the announcements that are made before.. we just need to continue to take a stand and I think the more we project the direction that we want to go, hopefully, slowly, people will navigate on that route.

Source: FIA.com

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