(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Finally, the winning machine that is Lewis Hamilton. I’ve heard rumour that they are going to rename Silverstone to Hamitonstone. Man, you made it difficult there for yourself. Our hearts were in our mouths when we first Valtteri have that delamination and then yourself. Talk us through that last lap?
Lewis HAMILTON: Up until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing. They tyres felt great. Valtteri was really pushing incredibly hard. I was doing some management of that tyre; he looked like he wasn’t doing any. When I heard that his tyre went I was just looking at mine and everything seemed fine and the car was turning no problem, so I was thinking “maybe it’s OK”. Anyways, those last few laps I started to back off and then just down the straight it just deflated. I just noticed the shape just shift a little bit. And that was definitely a heart-in-the-mouth kind of feeling because I wasn’t quite sure if it had gone down until I hit the brakes and you could see that the tyre was falling off the rim. And then just driving it, trying to keep the speed up, because sometimes it will come off and brake the wing and all these different things and oh, my God, I was just praying to try to get it round and not be too slow. I nearly didn’t get it round the last two corners. But thank God we did. I owe it to the team. I think ultimately maybe we should have stopped towards the end when we saw the delaminations.
Q: I guess it was Red Bull keeping you honest. There wasn’t a big enough of a gap there for you to make that decision. But you prayed and the racing gods listened you. Talk us through any communication you had on that final lap you had with your engineers, trying to understand where Max was?
LH: You’d be really surprised, well you may or not be surprised, but I was really chilled for some reason at the end. Bonno was giving me the information about the gap, I think it was 30 seconds at one stage, and it was coming down quite quickly, and in my mind I was thinking “how far is it to the end of the lap”. But the car seemed to turn OK through Maggotts and Becketts thankfully. I got to 15 and that’s where it really was a bit of a struggle and I could hear the gap coming down from 19 to 10 and I remember giving it full gas from 15 to 16 and the thing wasn’t stopping, so I got to the corner with a lot of understeer and then I heard him go, nine, eight, seven and I was like “just get back on the power and try to get the thing to turn”. I’ve definitely never experience anything like that on a last lap and my heart definitely probably nearly stopped. I think that’s probably how cool it was because my heart nearly stopped.
Q: Lewis many congratulations. What a weekend! You’ve won at Silverstone many times but never before have you crossed the line on three wheels. Can you just sum it all up for us?
LH: Well, yeah, just as the minutes go by I feel worse and worse as I realise what just happened. I think in the heat of the moment you have the adrenalin going and I guess that fight for survival instinct comes out. I was able to stay calm and really measured and try to bring the car home but of course, I’m just sitting here thinking of all the things that could have happened, if the tyre gave up in a high-speed corner or something it would have been a much different picture. So I feel incredibly grateful that it didn’t and we just managed, but I heard that Max was catching at crazy speed. I think I got onto Hangar Straight and I could hear I think “you’re at 19 seconds” at that point and I was trying to pick up the speed down that straight but the wheel was obviously making a real mess and I was thinking “jeez, how am I going to get through these last few corners without losing too much time”. But fortunately I got round 15 and then once I got to the last two corners that was really when it was a disaster. I could hear “seven, six, five…” and I just managed to keep it together. As I said, I’m just really grateful. My team did a fantastic job through the weekend but I think we have to look into why we had this tyre problem. I know a few people did but maybe it was debris or something like that or maybe the tyre was just worn out.
Q: How much warning did you get?
LH: None. I was constantly looking at the tyre. It was quite smooth and was working really well through Turn 3, the thing was turning fine. So I was trying to gauge just how worn it was but I didn’t have any feeling of wear, it being particularly worn. And then it was just down the straight the thing, you could feel the RPM as I was full speed. The RPM drops as you start getting extra friction from the tyre as it’s not roiling at the same speed and you feel the balance shift to the left. So, it was a bit of panic for a second and I nearly didn’t make it round Turn 7 but after that I managed to make it through all the corners.
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question for Lewis. How in control were you and Valtteri throughout the majority of the race. It seemed to be fairly straightforward right up until the drama at the end. Was that maximum attack or were you holding back. And at the same time, was the team giving you any warnings to manage the tyres, to potentially avoid what happened at the end?
LH: Yeah, we were pretty flat-chat to be honest. Valtteri was obviously chasing and keeping the gap. It was between 1.2-2.0 seconds for a good period and then all of a sudden he started to fall away, so I managed to keep good pace and he started to drop away. I think it got to seven seconds at one stage. So, I’m not really sure what… I’m sure he just killed that left-front tyre, I’m assuming, and it started to drop off for him. For me, the car was feeling fine, so I kind of kept up the decent pace. To see the Red Bulls as close as they were in terms of pace, I think that’s real. And it wasn’t the case of us turning down or anything like that, or backing off. So, we can have a close race potentially next race maybe.
Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Lewis, can you talk us through the process when you pitted. I think the Safety Car was the second everyone came to the pits which was a bit unscheduled. Did you think you could make it to the end with these tyres – and what did you talk about in the briefings before the race? How long the Hard tyre would last.
LH: Normally, this tyre usually has a long life expectancy. They said we could do almost a whole race distance with it but whether or not that’s at the pace we were going. Valtteri was obviously pushing at a serious pace for which I had to respond to, so it was quite difficult to manage it. I think they had spoken of a two-stopper that was generally a slower option for us. In hindsight, probably we would have stopped as soon as we saw Valtteri’s tyre go, we would have stopped – especially as Max had done so – as we should have come out just ahead and still had the position. But yeah, hindsight is always a great thing, as Max had said so.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Question to Lewis. Just wondered if you’ve ever won or finished a race before on three tyres. Second question. Much improved anti-racism message at the start. Just wanted to get your take on that. Were you happy with the efforts this time around?
LH: I don’t think I’ve won a race on three wheels, no. There was a race when I was in Formula Renault, at Croft, where the rear suspension, there’s two rear springs and one had snapped off and so I remember driving through the corners, through the left-handers with one wheel in the air, and through the right-handers it was fine, something like that. So that was a race where I was in the lead and I managed to still win the race – just. I don’t even know how I managed to make that one work. So, that was a little bit similar to today but of course it was more extreme today and the cost was obviously a lot higher. In terms of the start, I’ve been really, really happy with what the organisers have done, Formula 1 have really put in the time. I think last week I had really great Zoom calls with Chase and Ross and then another one with Ellie [Norman] to go through the different… y’know, what we could do better together and how we could really solidify our approach and our unity together. I don’t know how it looked on TV but it felt like it was much, much better organised and it didn’t really take a lot for us to have that extra ten minutes. I think what’s really important is that we continue to keep that up because ultimately we have this incredible platform. There’s so many people watching and every single one of us needs to be reminded every now and then of how serious things can be, so that people are aware. And obviously more important is that we follow through, or they follow through particularly on the promises that they said before the first race, in terms of how they’re going to try to attack the issue within our industry. So, that will be an ongoing discussion but I feel really confident and to see, as I said, everyone’s view and movement towards it.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question to Lewis. Next weekend obviously we’re back here at Silverstone but the tyres are going to be a step softer. So, given what happened in the last few laps, how concerned are you about that now?
LH: One step softer is going to be a challenge for us all and no doubt will move us all to at least a two-stop. And obviously our cars are a lot quicker this year, we’re using the same tyres as last year, they weren’t able to develop a better tyre to deal with the forces for this season, so it’s going to be a serious challenge I think, next week – but everyone’s in the same boat and naturally from today we’ll get a much better understanding of the tyre life and what we can do to be better prepared next week for the softer set that they bring.
Q: (Chris Medland – Racer) Question to Lewis. Just off the back of what Max and Charles were both asked. They say one no-one can stop you winning the title this year. How difficult from your perspective where you’ve got a comfortable lead already – you can afford a DNF and you’ll stay in the Championship lead – and this car does look so strong it is hard to see anyone other than Valtteri being a threat to you.
LH: Honestly, look, I’m a through and through racer at heart. I’ve grown up, particularly when you’re in karting, you’ve got the wheel-to-wheel racing, that’s what has always excited me, and that’s what gets me up in the morning. I definitely… this is not the championship fight I would have hoped for. I’d much, much prefer to be having a super-close battle with these two here because that’s what gets me going. Having to really put in… I think I’m still putting in the laps that are required but it’s not a close battle with Max in qualifying and the same with Charles. I really, really hope that in future it’s closer. It’s rules. Ultimately every team is given rules and at the end of the day we’ve just done an exceptional job collectively and you can’t fault my team for that. That’s not our fault. You have to look at the people that run the sport doing a better job moving forwards, I would say, ruling-wise. I think they’re showing some signs… I think Ross is showing us a car for the future that’s going to have us all closer. Hopefully it’s not as slow as a GP2 car, and then hopefully we’ll get some more-like karting races in the future.