(Conducted by Jenson Button)
Lewis HAMILTON: These guys are amazing! [indicating the crowd]
Q: Lewis just enjoying the atmosphere from the crowd here in this stadium. It’s great to see and you seemed so happy when you got out of the car, high-fiving the mechanics and all.
LH: Yeah, I’ve got to say a big thank you to this incredible crowd. Mexico, they’ve been giving us these great races here every year. And I genuinely love coming to this city. The food is fantastic and the people are beautiful. So thank you all, gracias. And otherwise, yeah, I mean, I feel fresh. We weren’t having to push crazy hard out there. But this is a great result considering we started sixth. I’m really proud of the team. This is a really difficult couple of weeks and to bounce back from a difficult weekend, last weekend with the end result, this is really, really well done.
Q: You put that to bed. You just got a P2, great result. And you guys chose the Medium tyre at the end of the race, which I think most of us [thought] was going to fall off a cliff but you were able to hold on to it.
LH: Yeah, I was thinking it wasn’t going to last but I did some real sweet finesse. I was trying to drive like you!
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Q: Very well done. Thank you, Max. Lewis, if we can come to you. Great race by you today. Another second place. This one, you get to keep. Just how much satisfaction did this give you?
LH: [Laughs] So far! Don’t speak too soon! But yeah, congrats to Max. Yeah, great day. I was not expecting to be up here with these guys. Difficult weekend, it started out, but yeah, I just kept my nose clean at the beginning of the race and then just really trying to manage the tyres and maximise and progress forwards. And when I noticed that I had the pace on Carlos, I knew that with the undercut, it really worked quite well. So, the team did a great job I think with strategy. And then of course the red flag probably played into our hands in terms of getting onto the fresher tyre at the end. But I just I didn’t know if whether or not the Medium would make it that long. I was trying to see if I could close the gap to Max but he was long gone and I could only just about equal his times. But great result for the team, really proud of everyone.
Q: Given that you weren’t that happy with the car during practice, where was it better today? What have you changed?
LH: Didn’t change… Well, we didn’t change anything obviously since qualifying. I think the car is just quite peaky in qualifying on light fuel. But when you put a load of fuel in it, the car just handles nicer. Just nice to drive and I think we struck a really nice set-up this weekend and particularly today for the race. Then, other than that, it’s just really good tyre management. And so yeah, I generally enjoyed it. It’s not the most physical of races, being that you can’t push all the way, you’re saving. You’re doing 200, 300 metres of lift and coast to keep the car cool and stop it from failing. So, yeah, but I was I was definitely hoping maybe there’ll be an opportunity to get closer to Max, but maybe next week.
Q: Lewis, you talk about tyre management, you set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap on those Mediums. Does that suggest you could have pushed a little bit harder than you actually did during that stint?
LH: Yeah, for sure. I could have pushed a little bit harder but I did at one time try to see, okay, I think I’ve saved enough, let me see if I can try and close this gap to Max. I think it was like 10 laps to go, and I did a 22.0 and Max did a 21.9. I was like, ah, I’ll leave it. He was just cruising at 21.9. So yeah, so I thought I’d leave it there. And also, I had to be cautious, just careful because obviously my tyres… if I really pushed them for the last 10 laps, they probably would have opened up, and who knows, maybe Charles would have caught me up. So, I just had to be cautious with that.
Q: There wasn’t much lift and coast from you on Lap 40 when you passed Charles Leclerc. Talk us through that move.
LH: Yeah, honestly, this weekend, we’ve been very, very slow on the straight. In general, we’ve were quite draggy on the straights more often than not but this weekend, you know, like yesterday, we were losing like two-and-a-half tenths just into Turn 1 before we even start braking. So, these guys were very slippery on the straights so, trying to follow closely through Turns 16 and 17 was, was really the only way that I could get close enough and have an opportunity to make the DRS impactful. And yeah, finally, I pressed every button on the steering wheel, maximum power. And I didn’t know how far across he was going to go. But split second decision, I decided to go to the right. There’s just enough space there but Charles was really fair. But yeah, great racing.
Q: And Lewis Mercedes had the second fastest car today. How much confidence does this give you going into the São Paulo Grand Prix next weekend?
LH: It definitely gives us a lot of confidence. I mean, last year, at the same time, we were doing the same thing, but last year, I think we were three-tenths behind Max in quali – or something like that, and I came second again but he walked off with it. So, we’re really just mirroring what we did last year. So, we have to make some real big changes for next year. Because obviously, in Bahrain earlier this year, they’re 1.5 seconds a lap faster than us at least. So key is to make sure that’s not the case in Bahrain, but I think hopefully these next couple of races will be close. But I’d probably put money on it that he’d get to 18, 19, with that car.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) A question to Lewis please. About the race to the end from the second restart. How did you go about getting those Mediums to last longer than the Hards on the Ferrari? You spoke about a ‘sweet finesse’ to Jenson Button. But what does that actually mean in practice? Thank you.
LH: Yeah, I mean, it’s really just… it’s about how much you’re sliding the tyre, it’s about the balance that you have. If you have too much wing in… too much front end in the car, then the car is like… imagine it a bit like a seesaw. You want to start a long stint – or a stint – with the car understeering, because as the rears go off, the seesaw tips, and then it goes to oversteer. And when it goes to oversteer, that’s when you’re lost most often. Unless it’s the other way around, where the front tyres are the issue, for example. And, just finding that balance is very, very difficult. And it’s… you go out and do your laps of the grid, for example, on a Soft tyre, it requires a different setting for the Medium tyre. And I think just really then, just focusing on all of the three sections and figuring out how to… where you can and can’t push. And I think today was just a really great balance of lift and coast and tyre saving. And it’s a technique. I mean, all the drivers know about it.
Q: (Jose Antonio Cortes – ESPN deportes) Lewis, the distance between you and Checo right now is only 20 points. How achievable do you see now the second place in the championship for you?
LH: It’s mostly dependent on Checo’s weekends really. They have the championship-winning car. He’s just been unfortunate, I think, in some scenarios. Obviously I’ve lost quite a lot of points in the last two races but he lost points today. So it’s swings and roundabouts. I think coming into the weekend, having lost points last week, I didn’t think I would really be in shooting range particularly but after today, yeah, we’ll just give it our best shot. Honestly, it’s not going to make a big difference to my life, whether I come second or third. It’s more important to get the team second in the Constructors and so that’s what I’m focused on. It’s a bonus if we get second in the Drivers.
Q: (Amelia Rosales – Q8 Magazine) I’m following up on the confident question, could you share the pivotal moments you had during this race? And how prepared do you feel for Brazil?
LH: Coming from a difficult race in Qatar, then having a good race in Austin really helps you leap on to the next race. So this puts us in a good position for next week. But I think the pivotal moments I think, was obviously what happened at turn one that opened up the doors a little bit for us to gain a position there, at least one position there. And I think just striking the right balance on the setup and then just making the right decisions in terms of when to push, when to try to overtake and when not to. Tyre management was really the key. I think stopping early to get past the Ferrari. Normally here it’s difficult to know whether you have an undercut or overcut but the undercut was really quite strong. So that was their chance, they should have stopped either before us or just after us. And then after that was really the opportunity with the safety car. Obviously we stopped earlier so I didn’t know how long I would be able to take that hard tyre all the way to the end. I was a bit worried because they had seven laps younger tyres or something like that. But yeah, so when the red flag came out, I was like yeah, a bit of breathing space.