Lewis Hamilton attended the 2022 Italian Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: Lewis, can I bring you in on this? Would you welcome Daniel as a third as a reserve driver next year at Mercedes?
Lewis HAMILTON: I think he should be racing, personally. I think he’s far too talented to… And he’s earned the right to be amongst us all, racing. But of course, if he’s a part of our team that would be great. But I mean, the third role is not really, I think, what’s best for him. I was managing him, he’d be racing.
Q: All right, Lewis, a word on Monza, if we could. The track celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. You’ve won here five times. Just how special is a victory here?
LH: I mean, it’s one of the originals, the classics, the historic circuits. It’s the fastest circuit that we have on the calendar. It’s unique in its layout. It’s so much different to all the other circuits that we go to. And then the crowd is incredible here. So, you’ve got that whole sea of red most often, particularly at the end of the races, but it’s great for overtaking and the thrill of driving here, because you’re on low downforce and you’ve kind of floating on the surface of the tyres, is pretty epic. So I’m really grateful for the wins that I’ve had. I remember my first race here, in 2007 and the pass on Kimi, and, you know, it’s not an easy circuit, and it throws lots of spanners in the works.
Q: Now, you say, it’s great for overtaking, which is good news, because your weekend has just got a whole lot harder with the news that you’re going to have some grid penalties as a result of that fourth power unit. How are you feeling coming into this one?
LH: As good as I can feel. Of course, you’d always feel better if you came off a win. But still, we’ve been making so much progress as a team. We’ve closed the gap more… At least we’re closing the gap more and more, weekend after weekend. And, of course, we don’t know how the car is going to be here this weekend, whether or not it will be as good as it was in the last race, we’ll find out. But yeah, I mean, my third engine that I had brand new in Spa is still being worked on, so I can’t use it right now, so I have to take a fourth. So that’s my doing. And we’re still hopeful we can use that later on. But yeah, so I’ve got to kind of recover the best I can from the back.
Q: Do you think the car will be better here than it was at Spa?
LH: I don’t think it’ll be worse. That’s a positive way of looking at it. It can’t be worse than Spa, I don’t think. No, I think it will be a lot better here.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1). A question to Lewis this afternoon: You’ve broken many, many records in Formula 1 but one I wanted to concentrate on now, you are the only driver to win at least one race in every single season. You’ve competed in so far, you’ve got seven races left to carry that run on. How important is that record to you? And where do you consider your best chance of a win between now and Abu Dhabi?
LH: Honestly, it had zero importance to me. So it’s… I’m grateful that each year, we have had, since 2007, an opportunity to win. I do believe that we’re going to have a chance this year, still got some races to go. And that’s definitely a real big goal for us as a team, to get back to the front and be fighting for the lead., I’ve not really thought of where our car… I have no idea where our car is going to be great. So, you know, it was a surprise when we got in the car last week, and the car felt so much better than it… like completely different to the previous weekend. But I’m hoping more often than not, it feels like Budapest and the last race for the rest of the races.
Q: You haven’t completely given up hope on the record?
LH: I’m not focused on the record but of course, I’m trying to get that win this year. But the record is not important to me. Just because I don’t really care about records in general, so…
Q: (David Tremayne – Grand Prix Plus) For Lewis. Two questions Lewis: where do you think you could have finished if you’d had Softs at the end of the race last week? And is it correct that you were in a different engine mode for the restart?
LH: I think at least second. We obviously got… we had good pace; we were closing on our on our one-stop strategy. We were obviously really unfortunate with the VSC. And that seems to have happened a lot this year. Basically, when you’re doing slow laps, you’re in one strategy, and when you go to start lap, you’re in a different strategy and I was slightly late to it, but it wouldn’t have made a difference. They’ve calculated the distance. I was into it, on the bank on the straight and either way he was coming past, so…
Q: (Ian Parkes – New York Times) Another question for Lewis. Lewis, a lot was made earlier in the season about the jewellery furore, and of course, you had a conversation with Mohammed Ben Sulayem, post that. What’s been your relationship like with Mohammed since then? What have you made of the role he’s done overall, since he took the job of FIA president? And are you and he working in any way in collaboration on… for the betterment of the FIA and F1?
LH: Well, I mean, it’s not an easy role for anyone, I think it takes time to get into a role and, and build all the relationships, and again, also to implement change. But I think the most important thing for right now is the drivers. We’re trying to build that connection with the drivers, all of us, the GPDA, we’re all united, and we want to help make the racing better. We want to help the FIA, and Mohammed has been really open with that. So yep, we’re just going to continue to work on that communication. I’m in touch with him quite a lot. We actually speak quite a bit. And, and he’s very, very driven for… he’s competitive. He used to race himself, so he has a competitor sort-of mindset. And he’s also very keen on diversity, and really pushing for future change. So he wants to collaborate with us all on that. So I’m quite happy with it
Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) Lewis, the W13 has obviously got its weaknesses
but it’s also got some strengths as well. And also seems to deliver surprises at times in terms of where it’s competitive and isn’t competitive. When it comes to your dialogue with the engineers for next year, how clear are you in the specific areas that need improving and need pushing forward? And how complicate is it going t be making changes, which keep the strengths and don’t eradicate… that get rid of the weaknesses without losing any of the strengths?
LH: I mean, it’s always complicated. But I would say… look, we’ve been very strong in the past, we’ve won world titles, our communication continues to improve. We’re holding more meetings, and breakout group conversations about… and I’m trying to just help give as much feedback as I can about what I’m feeling in the car and what are those limitations where I could gain time. These will be things that they won’t be able to see in the data, that the driver is able to bring to it. So, working closely with George also on that. But there is potential in the cars: We’ve got downforce, it’s just in some places it we’re not able to utilise it. And ride quality, of course, is an area that we can always be better. So I’m comfortable the direction that we’re going and have 1,000% confidence in the guys back at the factory, who are stringing together all these pieces of the puzzle, and have no doubt that we will be back in a fighting position next year.
Q: (Niharika Ghorpade – Sportskeeda) A question to Lewis, the Mercedes W13 still seems to struggle with excess drag on the straights. So, is it related to the sidepod design? Or is it related to the PU as well?
LH: The drag? I can’t answer that. Honestly. I think that’s more for the aero… I’m not an aerodynamicist. As I said, we do tend to have a bit of a draggy car, I think, this year. I can’t really answer much more to it. I’m always asking the question and I think we’re all trying to understand it. And yeah, try to make sure we rectify that for next year.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Lewis, you just said you don’t care about records. And we can understand what are you saying. But anyway, do you have the same feeling to be eight-time World Champion?
LH: Do I have the same feeling?
Q: I mean, that you said, I don’t care about records. But what does it mean for you to be eight times World Champion? I mean, this is your challenge?
LH: Oh, for sure, it’s a challenge. For me, it’s just winning another World Championship. It’s like, every one, I’ve approached it as my first, and the feeling of winning the World Championship, it’s so unique and special in its own way. But of course, the idea that no driver in history has ever gone past seven, of course, you want to try and accomplish that. But what I guess, as you get older, you realise the journey is the most important part and the ride that you do with all the people and all the people that you bring with you, and all the people that you try to elevate… there’s an opportunity to elevate lots of people, not only in your team, but with the work that we’re doing, with Mission 44, there’s a much bigger picture to it. But from a personal point of view, yeah, winning another world title continues to be a goal. I’ll be so proud to be able to do that for this team.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Another question for Lewis, and Daniel. Lewis, first of all, it was reported this morning that Mercedes were potentially lining up Daniel to replace you should you leave at the end of next season? So, I was just wondering, were you aware that the team were doing this, if they were doing it. And secondly, also, are you in discussions with the team about racing on after 2023? And how you feel about that? And then also to Daniel, can you tell us if you are in discussions with Mercedes to become a reserve driver next year, to step in should Lewis retire?
LH: So, I mean, look, for years, we’ll be going around, up and down with stories of retirement and stopping and for me, I feel healthier than I’ve ever felt, as I focus a lot on that, I’m feeling fit. I love what I’m doing – and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon – sorry Buddy – but I’m very… my goal was always to be with Mercedes, y’know, I signed with them in 1997. I love that we have the long partnership we have, I feel like we are embarking on a lot of really positive things, not only in the sport, but outside. And I think there’s a lot of work, a lot to accomplish together. So I want to be a part of that. I think I’ll always be with Mercedes ‘til the day I die. And I feel like I can race for quite a bit longer. So, I’ll be potentially steering towards that.