PARC FERMÉ INTERVIEWS
(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Lewis, you have a great following here. For a moment. It looked like the victory was on. You gave it everything. We heard you complimenting the team on the strategy, but just the underlying pace wasn’t there.
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, firstly, I want to give a huge thank you to the crowd here. We’ve have such an amazing crowd. This is the biggest crowd we’ve had here in the whole time we’ve been here, so a big, big thank you everybody. Secondly, I want to give a big shout out to my team. We came here with upgrades and we closed the gap a little bit. We were so, so close. I did everything I could to try and stay ahead but they were just a little bit too quick today. But great strategy. Great race by Red Bull. And again, my condolences to the team.
Q: Beautiful words Lewis, great respect there. Put us in the cockpit, as you can hear the crowd cheering for you there, this was a tough race. You love this race circuit but how far did you have to dig deep to get yourself into that lead?
LH: I’m shattered. The car was a handful today. It felt amazing, firstly, to be in the lead. That’s something we’ve been working so hard on as a team through the year and I felt so much hope. But it’s OK. We’ll hold on to that. We’ll keep pushing, we’ll try and give it everything we can in these next three [races]. It will come to us at some stage so…
Q: Alright. Very well done to you. Many congratulations on the Constructors’ Championship as well. So Lewis, let’s come to you next. So close to your first win of the season. Just looking at the bigger picture, how good did it feel to be back out front?
LH: It felt amazing. It felt amazing to even just be in shooting distance of Max for some points of the race. We really didn’t know what our pace was going to be like today. I think in the first stint he was controlling the pace and it was very difficult to hold on to him. But in that second phase of the race, where after the safety car I was able to keep up with him and we did such a great job with strategy today. We were aggressive. I really am proud of the team. I think everyone worked so hard to bring upgrades here this weekend. And yeah, for a second I thought maybe we might just be able to hold on to it but I think that extra Medium tyre they had was just a little bit too strong compared to us.
Q: So what about the upgrades? Do you feel that the car has taken a step forward here? And what does it mean going forward for the remaining three races?
LH: Honestly, it’s really difficult to say whether or not… I’m sure the team will know whether we’ve taken a step forward compared to others. It’s difficult to say whether it’s compared to these guys, but I’m sure it helped. Just because you go to different races, sometimes, you know, from the last race of this race it’s difficult to really feel exactly. But I do think we’ve taken a step in the right direction. They’ve been so fast on the straight, I think, under DRS they’re like 35km/h faster than us. If we’re behind them, we’re like, 22k faster, I think it is, with DRS on the back straight. So he came from a long, long way back. But even without the DRS, I think they’re still something like 8k up on us, so we’ve got a lot of time being lost on the straight, probably four tenths at least a lap. And so we’ve got some improvements to make for next year’s car.
Q: Okay, so that’s straight line speed. How was it through Sector 1, through the first sweeps? And also, can you tell us a little bit about the brake drama that was going on prior to the start of the race?
LH: Yeah, well, we’ve had problems with our brakes all year. Just with separation, basically. When you hit the brake, instead of both fronts doing the same amount of work. Either the left one does more, or the right one does more, because one gains more temperature. And so we had a huge temperature split, which was basically, the left one wasn’t really working. So they had to change the brakes. And it’s something we’ve seen a lot through the year with these new bigger drums. And so something we’re working on fixing that.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frédéric Ferret – L’Equipe) Lewis, it is the second time since Zandvoort that you can win. Are you confident that you can do that before the end of the season? And which race would be the best for you and your car?
LH: I think we really need to be realistic. The Red Bull car has been the fastest car by far all year. And it is still the fastest car. So today, we were… you know we’re in the position we’re in through a lot of the races, through reliability. You know if Charles was there, if Pérez was there, for example, it would have been a different race, because they would have been ahead of us, we would have been on the third row. And so, I think today it was great to have started third and been in position to fight, but out of true pace, they’ve been ahead of us all weekend. They were today and they will be the next three races. So, unless something drastic happens to any more of them, for example, then it’s highly unlikely that we will have the true pace to be able to compete with them. But we’ll give it everything we’ve got. We’re working on making a car that can fight with them. But I think today shows that our teamwork was fantastic. I think, as a team, we operated amazing. I mean, he had an 11-second stop, and he was behind Charles, that just shows how much pace they had in hand, to have got past Charles, and to have caught up six seconds, and pulled three seconds ahead of me at least, that shows some serious speed. So, you know… but there’s lots of positives, as I’ve said. Honestly, I think this was our best… this one was probably one of our best. Yeah.
Q: (Jeff Gluck – The Athletic) I know you guys get treated like rock stars everywhere you go now pretty much – but is there anything you can say about the American fans and the reception that we got here? Still a record crowd despite the Championship already being decided?
LH: Yeah, record crowd here. And we have two Grands Prix here in the States. We have three next year. It’s growing here. And it’s amazing to… you know, I’ve been racing here 15 years and I always wondered why it wasn’t… people hadn’t quite caught on. In terms of… because it’s such a great sport, this. There’s so much… it’s so complex and so exciting. So, it’s nice to finally see that we’ve finally got that reach, we finally tapped into the country and people here in the US are such huge sporting fans, and they bring in such great energy. The show is fantastic. And you know, just going on the drivers’ parade, you can see the crowd and the energy from them, super excited. When we did the Fan Zone is the biggest crowd we’ve ever had. So big, big Thank You to everyone that took the time to come here this weekend. And, for COTA, for putting on such an amazing, amazing event. I can’t wait to come back. This is one of my favourite races. I won here in 2012, the first race. So close again, to have that potentially today. But I look forward to coming back next year.
Q: (Scott Mitchell-Malm – The Race) For Lewis, please. If you’d won the race today, it feels like it would have been a good reward for the work that’s been put in this season by the team but also yourself. It sometimes feels like this season doesn’t really reflect the job that that you’ve done. Without that win, that headline result, where do you take pride in this season? What is it? Is it the way you’ve led the team on-track, off-track? What do you take away from this year?
LH: I think even though we’ve not had a win so far, I think it’s been the teamwork, I think it’s been the team spirit that’s stayed strong and intact. I think it’s the challenges, the tough conversations we’ve had. I think we’ve really had to dig deep, pulling together more than ever, especially after a difficult end of season last year. And with all the challenges that we’ve faced this year,. I take a lot of pride in the stuff and the steps that finally got Mission 44 up and running and the steps that we’re now starting to see and have real impact. I think that’s something I’m really proud of. And then just to be… I’m still here, the end of the season still really, really proud of the performance today, collectively as a team. And, you know, through the year, we’ve made all the mistakes we’ve needed to make, I think, to build a stronger foundation for next year. So, I think if we can get that car on par with these guys. I think we could have a really exciting year next year.
Q: (Joshua Robinson – Wall Street Journal) Lewis, you in particular spend a lot of time in the States. Following up on what was said before, how has your experience of it in particular changed? And what do you feel made the difference, maybe beyond Netflix?
LH: What made the difference?
Q: (Joshua Robinson – Wall Street Journal) In terms of the popularity here and how the fans respond to the sport and the show that’s been presented?
LH: It’s a difficult one for me to really answer. I don’t really know, apart from the Netflix show, which really gave people a much more in depth insight because if you switch on the TV and just start following, it’s very, very hard to understand what is going on. If you turn up for the first time, it’s hard if you don’t know the details of what’s happening within the teams. And within a few shows, obviously, it really highlight open doors and then I think once people have seen that, then they’ve just gone down a real wormhole of learning more about the technology, that there’s a lot of mathematics in the background, there’s a huge amount of data, it’s the highest technology that’s around, that would help develop… that crosses over into road cars. And then at the end of the day, there’s 20 drivers that are athletes, that are putting their life on the line, weekend in, weekend out. And unlike the other sports which are also exciting there’s a lot of players… in terms of athletes, there’s only 20 of us so it’s a very, very small group of us that get to drive these rockets basically around so we’re as close to NASA I guess, as we can be.
Q: (Joshua Robinson – Wall Street Journal) Have you given any thought to what Vegas will be like?
LH: I don’t know how we’re going to move around Vegas already but I have no doubt they’re going to do such an amazing job. It’s going to be absolutely incredible. I think without doubt probably going to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest race. The track’s not going to be as great as this race, I can tell you that already. Street circuits aren’t as good as the more open circuits and especially the newer circuits generally aren’t as great. This is a fantastic circuit here. It’s a track on which you can race. It’s nice and wide but the city and the atmosphere is going to be unlike anything probably. With all those night lights it’s gonna be huge
Q: (Marijn Abbenhuijs – AD Sportwereld) You were experiencing battling with Max again today. Looking at his dominance this year, how do you feel about that? Do you think we are in the beginning of a Max Verstappen era or do you see opportunities to close the gap towards next year?
LH: It is too early to say. If we get into next year and they’re dominating again, then yes, but the Ferraris have been quicker than them throughout qualifying. I think they’ve every single lap probably had better performance on the majority of a lot of the season. Now, all they need to do is pick up their race pace, and they’ll be right with them. I think we’ve got a much, much bigger step and steeper hill to climb, but hopefully not impossible.
Q: (Stew Myrick – KTXX-FM 104.9 The Horn) Reflect on the success that this race has seen here in the ATX?
LH: It’s been an amazing journey coming out here. I’ve always spend a lot of time in the States. Coming to Austin for the first time in 2012, I had an amazing race here. It was very, very near to the city. Now going into the city, seeing the growth through the city and new buildings, new hotels, just seeing so much growth within it and more and more people here. Got to see a lot more of the city over those years and feel very, very at home here. I would say this has probably been my favourite stay of the time. I stayed a little bit on the edge of the city, overlooking the city every day, and it’s definitely a place I think I could live. Whilst New York is my favourite city still, but this is a very, very close second, I would say. Yeah. Ah, awesome. Good to know.
Q: (Stew Myrick – KTXX-FM 104.9 The Horn) Would you like to live here?
LH: Yeah. Awesome. Good to know.