Q: Lewis, that was a dominant lap on the last attempt. We watched your onboard and you were fighting all the way to the end, so you must be pleased with that?
Lewis HAMILTON: All I could hear was ‘I must be pleased with that’. Honestly I am. What a tricky day. The weather was obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us. A lot of the time you can’t even see where you are going. I had one big moment I think the lap before the last, big aquaplane, which definitely had my heart in my mouth but it was able to improve on the next lap, nice and clean. I love these days. You remember back when we used to race back in Larkhall and those places when it was like but obviously a hundred times a worse when you’re in a Formula 1 car.
Q: I know you had a difficult weekend last week with the penalties and obviously right at the end of the grand prix… Are you confident for tomorrow, because yesterday looked like it was a tough day in the dry?
LH: Yeah, yesterday was a difficult day. It started off well enough in P1 but then P2 was a big issue for us but we discovered it overnight and nothing major. I think today would have been better for us if it had been dry. But I’m grateful for the rain always. But I’ve heard that tomorrow is going to be much more sunny day, so I think we prepare for both conditions. That’s where I want to start. I’m glad it was a trouble-free session. I didn’t make any mistakes you know; that’s always a positive.
Q: Lewis, that was an incredibly exciting session to watch. Just what was it like inside the car? How treacherous was it out there?
LH: Thank you. It was the worst conditions we could probably get these cars around in. It was an incredible challenge. I’m grateful that we go to do qualifying because we missed the morning session. It’s a real challenge for everyone, naturally we’re all in the same boat. Visibility was very, very… minimal. Making sure you get in the gap and putting the laps together when I counted was really the key. But the team did a great job in terms of the positioning, in terms of the information I was getting and I felt pretty much at home in the rain today. Grateful, that’s for sure.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question for Lewis. Your team said after FP2 they were rather in the dark on your car. Just wondered, any potential issues? Have they been solved and are you confident in dry conditions tomorrow?
LH: Yeah, the guys did a great job last night, just going through it with a fine comb to understand… to just double check the car and then look at the data and we understood what may have been causing the problem and felt more confident going into today knowing that hopefully that wouldn’t be an issue. So, there’s no long-standing issues.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) All three of you have touched on just how difficult conditions were out there. Carlos said it was very, very stressful. Do you think big credit needs to be given to the race officials for actually getting this qualifying underway and in today? And how much do you guys enjoy it to make the difference as the drivers – because you seem like superheroes out there when it’s that treacherous to get these laps in.
LH: Yeah, definitely. The officials definitely have a difficult job the majority of the time and particularly on a day like this, knowing when to go and when to choose not to let the cars run – but I’m grateful they did. Just as we came to qualifying. Obviously it was drying up – or it wasn’t raining for a while – and just as everyone got in the car it started to rain again. And so we obviously had that bit of a pause. But once we got going it was fine for the first session. Then it did get worse – but I’m glad that they allowed us to stay out. It was definitely on the limit – but that’s racing! I’m glad they didn’t take that away from us because today, it’s so special being out there, it’s so difficult. I don’t know how it comes across on the cameras but it is the hardest conditions that we ever drive in. Just one small lapse of concentration and you’re off. And it can be big or small. More chance of it being a big one. So, yeah, I’m grateful for that.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Lewis, question for you. You’ve done some pretty special things in the wet in the past. Where does that qualifying session rank for you, do you think, career-wise?
LH: It’s been a long, long journey. Honestly, it was a fantastic lap, the last one. I think just the importance of managing your time out there, managing your battery pack, knowing when to use the few laps that you have on the qualifying modes, creating the gap, not making a mistake when it counts. That was a lap. Obviously the lap that I had before I think was good enough but that last lap of me was really as close to perfect as I could get it in those conditions. And considering it was raining more, it makes me even happier knowing that I went a little bit quicker during that time. It definitely takes me back to times like Silverstone 2008 because, when you’re really at one with the car and you’re not phased at all and – as Carlos was saying – how you have to be very dynamic with your driving style from corner to corner because the wet patches arrive, the puddles are shifting about with the cars that are driving ahead of you, which is a massive challenge. I’m smiling under this mask. Super happy.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) For all three drivers, Lewis sort-of touched on the communication with the engineer in trying to find space. Is this the most hectic time that you have with your engineers, in terms of back-and-forth over the radio – and at what point does it become too much? How do you strike that balance of having the information you need and then being left to do the job?
LH: Not a lot more to add, except to say communication really is vital and I think the rapport you have with your engineer, you have to have a good relationship, a good understanding of each other. It’s something I discuss. Bono and I have discovered over time how to lean on each other and when not to. So, I think the communication was really perfect. I couldn’t have done it without him and, as Max was saying, you’re out there, you really feel very, very lonely because there’s a cloud of rain – or spray – ahead of you and then the same behind. You don’t know where anyone is, you don’t know what time it is, all you know is that you’re going super-fast.
Q: We did hear you at one point say words to the effect of ‘Bono, leave it to me’.
LH: Yeah, I think there was one lap that he was quite relaxed and he was like ‘well, take this lap to calm down’ and I was starting another lap. So I was on the lap and he was trying to talk to me about the next lap and I was like ‘Bono, just give me a second’ and I was still on that lap. It’s not easy, definitely, to hear from someone when you’re on a pushing lap or when you’re cornering because you’re so focused on one thing and it can be distracting. But that wasn’t an issue.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, I don’t if he knows about this but there’s obviously strict protocols now in place for Hungary: team members, should they breach protocols they do risk a €15,000 fine or prison. I just wondered whether he had a view on that at all, if he knew about it. Just a feeling, talking to his engineers, not so much himself as he would stay in the track limits, but I just wondered if you’ve spoken to him about that?
LH: I was only made aware of it before qualifying. Naturally, it doesn’t really affect me because I stay at the track but it is, obviously, there will be protocols, I’m sure, for the team. I think the team have been fantastic in how they’ve managed it in their bubble, during this time, so I don’t anything about how their set-up there will be. Obviously, they’re not fortunate like us, to be able to stay at the track but it is a challenge, it is challenging times, we can understand it so we definitely need to make sure we take it very very seriously which I think everyone is.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis…
LH: Why don’t you have your mask on?
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, you touched on it a little bit but can you explain why you think you’re so quick in the wet, 1.2s to anyone else? And the second question was whether you’d considered take a knee perhaps on the podium, maybe if you win tomorrow’s race?
LH: Honestly, I haven’t thought that far forwards, so I still have to do the job tomorrow and these guys are no pushover so it’s going to require a perfect job from myself and the team. Can’t see myself doing that anyways. To the other part: I think it’s difficult for an athlete to explain why they’re good at something. I think, ultimately, it’s down to people to have… I know how good I am and that’s the belief that we have to have inside of us, all of us. I think that’s the same for every athlete. I think it should probably apply to everyone doing their jobs around the world; people try to be the best and believe that you can be the best and at some point, hopefully, you do believe you’re the best. But yeah, it’s down to focus, it’s down to how you study the track and your ability to be dynamic and manage the trickiest of conditions with the pressure on you. That’s generally what the best athletes in the world do in the last moments of an NBA game, when you’ve got Ray Allen taking that three point shot, when that one counts… either gets you through or not. That’s really, kind of what makes those individuals stand out.
Q: Lewis, when you’re on track, how does the skill of being a racing driver change in the wet?
LH: Change? I don’t know how to really answer that. Naturally in the dry it’s a lot easier not to make mistakes, it’s a lot easier to stay on track, it’s a lot less risk, even though there’s a lot of risk, it’s magnified by a thousand once you get in the rain. And as I said, there’s a balance of how much risk you take. In the dry, obviously you can take more risk, there’s more forgiving. In the rain there’s no forgiveness or very little forgiveness, so it’s… more and more times I experience rain days like this, it’s where your ultimate respect for other drivers are in the same boat, who are facing the same issues that you are facing, and get the job done. That’s impressive to see.
You can watch the full conference below.