(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Lewis Hamilton, third place, not the ultimate result you want but brilliant comeback, strategically, at the end. This is your 196th podium and your seventh here in Singapore. We saw you battle hard with your team-mate, we heard you on the radio saying “tell George to hurry-up!” and then, unfortunately, he clipped the wall.
Lewis HAMILTON: Well, firstly, congratulations to Carlos and Lando, they did a great job today, their strategy worked. We rolled the dice this weekend, we went on with a different amount of tyres into Qualifying, with the option to be able to do what we’ve done today. I felt like it was a two-stop but I think the team did an amazing job today to really get us back up there. It’s a little bit of a shame about the first corner, but nonetheless I just kept my head down, kept pushing. And, of course, extremely unfortunate for George. We were pushing so hard to catch these guys and our tyres were so hot. But I know he’ll bounce back. He’s been phenomenal all weekend.
Q: We saw you sitting just before coming up to the interview. This is a hard race – but that’s why you love it.
LH: Yeah, this is how it should be. It’s incredibly hot. I think I only lost 2kg today, so it’s not so bad.
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Q: Very well done to you. Lewis, coming to you. Look, can we start by talking about the decision to pit during the VSC? Was it clear cut in your mind that it was the right thing to do?
LH: Yeah, I think so. I mean, we needed to take the risk, have a shot at trying to get past some of these guys and going for the win. I think we had really good pace. So I think the team did a great job. I don’t know, I think George was in second at the time, and maybe if I was in his position, I probably would have stayed out and at least kept the McLaren behind. But we gave it a shot. And it was really fun to be hunting these guys down. But as Lando said it was just too difficult to pass in the end.
Q: What you quicker than George in that last stint?
LH: I mean, based on our times, I think I was about a half-a-second a lap up. But I think it was just… It’s so difficult to overtake here, you need like, a second-and-a-half deficit to the car ahead. And what was really surprising is that the Hard hadn’t dropped off as much as we would have thought but also our tyres dropped off a lot in trying to catch up the huge gap that were behind.
Q: Lewis, how much was this race a case of ‘what if’ for you? I mean, had you not had to give those two positions back at the start of the race, do you think you could have at least… well, do you think could have won?
LH: I think Carlos today had really good pace. So I think I can’t say that it would have been easy to have won today. But I think I think our car was very strong. I think if I had qualified better yesterday, perhaps third, or even on the front row with these guys, perhaps we would have been of course in a better place. And I think, as a team, we would have been able to work better together. But when you separate the cars a little bit more, it makes it really hard to work against two other drivers from another team. So, I’ve got to do a better job there. But I’m really grateful for the hard work that everyone continues to do. Great pit stops from the lads in the garage, and faultless in their performance through the weekend. And also, with strategy and everything. So, I think we are progressing. We’ve just got to keep working away.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Niharika Ghorpade – SportsKeeda) Lewis, as an experienced driver on the grid and you’ve been in special situations throughout your career, what is the difference between getting it all together in a pressured situation like today and getting it completely wrong as in the case of your team-mate? What is the thought process behind maintaining your calm and just pulling through a good result by the end of it?
LH: Well, we’re all trying to be millimetre-perfect out there and it’s very, very easy to make mistakes, it’s very easy too for any us to have been in the position that George was in. He’s been driving phenomenally all weekend, so it was really unfortunate for him – last lap – to finish that way. But he continues to grow, he’s continuing to improve so I know that he’s going to keep getting stronger and faster and if there’s any way I can help, I will be a part of that naturally in the next couple of years. But yeah, I have a lot of experience, I’ve been here a long time so putting together a race is… not that it’s easy but the race is where I’m most comfortable on track and yeah, I think it’s just keeping your head down, it’s trying not to make… but if you look at last year for example, I made a mistake in Turn Seven and went off and crashed into the wall so it can happen to any one of us and it’s just one of those things.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, also Lando and Carlos if they’d like to answer: we obviously saw the Red Bulls have struggled here this weekend and a lot of sports fans are probably saying this was the race of the season. Does it give you hope that this could be the beginning of the end of a Red Bulls dominance, of Max dominance and we might see a more level playing field going forward?
LH: I don’t know what… I wasn’t really watching much of others this weekend so I don’t really know why they’re off pace-wise. But I think it’s great to see that others are… McLarens have picked up huge amount of pace, it’s great to see that Ferrari have really stepped it up and I think it’s a positive. I think, probably if you think about it, they haven’t been developing. Obviously McLaren brought an upgrade here. Others are bringing upgrades, they’re working on next year’s car. They have less wind tunnel time so then they’re probably using some of this year’s on to next year’s. They would have definitely migrated before us. So no, I think it’s just one of those things. They are so clear ahead that maybe they’re developing their car less and we are still pushing to develop our current one. But time will tell.
Q: (Zuhrah Beevi – VAVEL.com) Lewis, another fantastic performance, claiming your 196th podium in the process. So, do you think you can hit the milestone of 200 podiums by the end of this season?
LH: Jeez. Only 200. You guys haven’t even done 196 races have you? Ultimately, I’ve been very, very fortunate to work with some amazing people, incredibly talented people over the years and so incredibly grateful to have been able to work with them and have the opportunity to have those podiums. I have no idea where we will be in the coming races but this weekend… we’ve had pace to be fighting for that top three this weekend. And it’d be interesting to see where it is in the next couple of tracks we go to. Yeah, I hope I can at least get another podium this year. That’d be great.