Exclusive Q&A: Lewis Hamilton talks with Martin Brundle ahead of the Bahrain GP
Martin Brundle chats to Lewis Hamilton about tyres, penalties, his race aims and what it is like passing a McLaren.
By William Esler
Last Updated: 21/04/13 1:51pm
Martin Brundle: You had an adventure or two on Saturday.
Lewis Hamilton: "It has been a difficult weekend so far, but you are going to have those kinds of experiences and you have to take the rough with the smooth."
MB: What happened with the tyre in third practice?
LH: "I don't know. I think it picked up debris or something and then delaminated and damaged the car pretty heavily."
MB: So you start ninth after taking a gearbox penalty because of that damage. Some of the fans think that is unfair when you haven't made a mistake, yet you get a grid drop?
LH: "Yeah it is pretty harsh, but that is the rule."
MB: What do you think about the tyre degradation? Fernando Alonso said on Friday that he is only driving at about 80% of his ability at some points of the race - do you agree with that?
LH: "Definitely - I think that is the way we are driving. Of course in qualifying you can go flat out, but it is the way F1 is at the moment and everyone is in the same boat. You just have to enjoy it."
MB: Nico Rosberg did two laps that would have been good enough for pole in Bahrain. That is back-to-back poles now for Mercedes after yours in China, but your race pace is not as strong is it?
LH: "In the race we struggle with degradation and I don't know if that is the exhausts which create that effect, because the exhausts do heat the tyres slightly. Some cars do it more than others and I remember having that experience at McLaren. But we are working on it - it is a work in progress."
There was a story that you went into the McLaren garage during testing and they politely asked you to leave - is that true?
LH: "Yes. I went in to see the guys during winter testing, just to say hi, and they were stripping the car down as they were having some problems with it. I did have my back to the car so I wasn't looking at it but I was swiftly escorted out. But, it is ok - got a message from Martin [Whitmarsh] saying I am welcome down anytime. Martin has been really supportive throughout my racing career and still is today - I have got nothing but love for him."
MB: We saw you wheel-to-wheel and then overtaking a McLaren in China - how does that feel after all the years you were there? Is it just another car, or is it the McLaren?
LH: "No it is, the McLaren. It feels very, very surreal. It is very strange when you are behind the McLaren and you think that is my old car - that is the car I have grown up in. But everyone moves on and experiences something new and I am enjoying it."
MB: What would you be satisfied with from ninth on the grid?
LH: I just want to get some points. That has got to be the target - finish the race and get in the points. If we can get in the top five tomorrow that would be awesome."