(Conducted by Jenson Button)
Q: Lewis, it’s great to see a smile on your face. I know it’s not been the easiest year for you. After years of dominance, it must have been tough. But today, this is a good step forward for you, isn’t it?
Lewis HAMILTON: How are you going Montreal? We’ve had such an awesome crowd here this weekend. It’s quite overwhelming, honestly, to get this third place. It’s been such a battle this year with the car and as a team. But we continue to stay vigilant and focused and never giving up. And that’s something I’m so proud of and inspired by my crew. So thank you to everyone that’s here and back at the factory. They’re a little bit too quick for us at the moment but I was giving everything. But we’re getting closer, so we’ve just got to keep pushing, keep pushing and eventually we hopefully will be in a fight with these guys.
Q: But even the shift from Friday until today seems to be big. I mean, Friday, you were saying it’s undriveable and it looked like it, especially on entries. But today, you had them in your sights. Obviously they had a bit of pace on you, but you could still see them at the end.
LH: I could just about see them in the end. Thanks to the Safety Car but honestly our pace was quite good particularly in the second phase of the stint, and we did a lot of work back in the simulator but also here to get the set-up right, so honestly I’m ecstatic. I think, as I said, I didn’t expect this coming into the weekend. It’s my second podium of the year. So this feels really special, especially here where I got my first Grand Prix win. I love it here in Montreal. So, a big thank you to all the Canadians.
Q: Lastly, how’s the back feeling?
LH: It’s good. I’m back to being young!
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Q: Lewis coming to you. Welcome back. Your first podium since the season-opener in Bahrain. After what’s been a difficult run of races for you and Mercedes, how much satisfaction does this podium give you?
LH: It feels great today, to be in amongst the battle. And for a second, at the end there, I was just about keeping up with these guys – but then they pulled away at the end. But it’s given me and the team a lot of hope. I think that there’s more to come from this car. The potential is truly there if we can get the set-up, right. And I think that’s been the most difficult thing this year, is really trying to optimise the set-up. The window for this car is much, much smaller than any other car we’ve experienced. And yeah, I’ve not been on the podium for a long time. So, especially as I had my first one here 15 years ago, to be back up there and get to experience the energy from the crowd was very reminiscent of that first year here and yeah, I’m so, so happy with it.
Q: Lewis, you mentioned set-up, and the last time you drove this car in the dry on Friday, you seemed at a loss to explain the lack of pace. So, what did you change between Friday and qualifying and today?
LH: I wasn’t really lost. It’s just we tried two different avenues and the avenue I was down was dreadful. So, we collated all the data we had and we made drastic changes to the set-up. And it was much, much, much nicer today. More in line with what we anticipated and it was good. When you get a full race distance in, you find a lot of things out about the car and the relationship you have with the car and data, etc. So, there’s a lot to take from today. One really great thing is we’ve got really good reliability, which I think is a real tribute to all the great work all the team are doing at both factories. So, we just got to keep our heads down, keep working and hopefully I know where I’m losing to these guys, so that’s where I’m going to go and try and focus on attacking, to improve.
Q: Lewis, we’re heading back to a more conventional circuit next, your home race, Silverstone. Just how confident are you at track like that now?
LH: I think we’re better in medium and high-speed corners probably, than we are in the low-speed corners so I… but we have bouncing, so I don’t know how it’s going to be through Copse and all those places. Max doesn’t know what I’m talking about – but Carlos knows what I’m saying. So, it’ll be interesting for us there. But yeah, really excited to get back to the UK, the weather’s incredible right now, so I hope it’s the same next week.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing News 365) Lewis, you said the car was “a lot, lot nicer”. What do you mean by that? Was the bouncing less, was it just quicker? Did it feel more comfortable? What was it?
LH: The balance I had on Monday (sic ‘Friday’) was neutral, super positive, so no rear end. And as soon as you apply one degree of turning, the rear end’s come around. So, I was just fighting that constantly and it was very difficult to keep it out the wall. That’s why I didn’t finish my long run, because it was just undriveable in the set-up window that we tried. It was just an experiment, to see whether the car would work there, it didn’t. So, then we made the changes, and today was a much more… a much, much better balance in terms of I had a little, nice amount of understeer today, better traction, not having those snaps. So, it was night and day difference. We still have bouncing, that’s not going away.
Q: Was it better than Baku, the bouncing?
LH: Yeah, much better than Baku this weekend, with the suspension that we chose.
Q: (Jess McFadyen – Motorsport.com) Lewis, you’ve mentioned how your side of the garage has maybe taken on more experimental set-ups. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for you in terms of needing to maybe be the team’s guinea pig a little bit and where you can focus on driving and racing and being competitive?
LH: Yeah, maybe in the second half of the season George can do the experiments! We’re just trying to work… we’re just trying to progress as a team. And yeah, I think moving forward, I think we’ll be a little bit more cautious on doing too many experiments as it really does hinder you through the weekend, especially if you only have practice one and two in the dry and don’t get a FP3, for example. So yeah, I think there’s lots of learnings from this weekend, and improvements that we can make moving forwards. But you know, really great pace today. And it’s so nice to see, it’s not always been the case I’ve had with this car so it’s nice to have a bit of a good battle with her today, her or him, whatever you call a car. And I really hope, moving to Silverstone… it’s such an important race for us and for me and so I really hope that… I just want to be in a battle with these guys. At the end there when the Safety Car came in and we started again, I was hoping that I could just… the dream was like if I can keep in that battle with them and find a way but they were rapid. But we will get there eventually.
Q: (Celini Ehret – F1only.fr) Lewis, you mentioned that you’re still bouncing; what about your back today?
LH: Yeah, well, the bouncing was nowhere near as bad as the last race. The last race was… there was no words for how hard it was. But this weekend, we managed to… we did have bouncing but it was nowhere near on the… if the last race was 10G’s this one maybe was to two or three or something like that, you know, so it’s livable. But we still, I think, as a sport need to do better and I think us as a team also need to do better.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca – Car Magazine Brazil) It’s Father’s Day, and the three of you have a lot of stories about the father being involved in motor sport so I would like you to comment on the importance of your fathers in your career.
LH: Yeah, similar to these guys. Contrasting difference, you know, my dad would have given everything to be a racing driver when he was in his younger days. But coming from the humble beginnings and just with the dream of creating a better opportunity for his kids than he had and I’m forever grateful for my Dad, you know, the journey that we’ve been on, the struggles that we had, and to be in here and our first Grand Prix win in 2007, looking down at him, knowing everything he did, to raise money and to… literally almost selling the shirt off his back to keep us racing. I hope that he’s proud today. And I continue to try to do him and my whole family proud with every moment that I step in that car. And yeah, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there because it’s such an important role. And I’ve got friends that didn’t have their father with them and the mothers have done such an amazing job. But it’s great to also be able to celebrate the Dads today.