Monday, September 8, 2008

Post Race conference - Questions from the floor


Q: (Ed Gorman - The Times)

Lewis, can you just talk us through the very last lap when you were absolutely tip-toeing around, what was going through your mind then? You could have gone off at any moment, couldn't you?

LH: I could have. It was very, very slippery. I had no temperature in my tyres, just because we had been driving around in the wet for a lap and a half. It's incredible you know. You brake very, very early thinking 'I've braked 400 meters earlier than I should' and you still arrive at the corner and you're not really sure what's going to happen, the car will step out… There's just nothing you can do about it, you are just guessing where the grip is and making sure your senses become a lot more… you turn them on full power basically and just wait, making sure that you can react to every oversteer moment you have. I was looking in my mirrors, I was looking at the gap between me and Felipe and I realised that it went from five to ten (seconds), so I realised that he was going even slower, so I went even slower. I just went as slow as I could. There was no need to push, just make sure you bring it home, there's one lap to go. The thought of Kimi coming off on the second to last lap… it's a long, long way to go and to then just throw it away and so I just brought it home.

Q: (Ed Gorman - The Times)

Lewis, are you aware that the stewards have announced they are investigating an incident between yourself and Kimi? We're not sure exactly which one it was. Are you aware of that and what could your thoughts be? Is there any part where you felt that you'd contravened the rules?

LH: Absolutely not. I will explain what happened. It began to rain. I caught Kimi and I got a good tow from him down the back straight and I was in a good position to dive down the inside at turn 18. He covered his spot, which was fair, but he braked very, very early, so I was able to outbrake him and go round the outside which I did. I left him enough room, I didn't close the gap so much that he had to go on a kerb, I left him enough room, yet he accelerated or picked up more pace going into the corner, and drove me as wide as he possibly could. I had no road left. There was a question I had to ask: if I stay where I am, I'm going to go over the Astroturf… there's some green bit behind the big kerb, the last kerb… and go over it and hit him. Or I go left. That was the option I had to do, I did it. I knew that I had to let him past and also the team came over the radio and said 'you have to let him past' which I did. I was accelerating so that I didn't lose too much ground because I thought that would be unfair. Fortunately I got back in his slipstream and again, he moved to the inside and back to the outside and again, I dodged him and went up the inside and at the apex to the corner he hit me at the back, and that nearly caused me to spin, but fortunately I kept hold of it and went on from there. That was a great fight and I don't think there was anything wrong there. The rules say you should let him back past which I did.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association)

Lewis, given the explanation that you've just given us, would you be surprised now if the stewards did decide to punish you in any kind of way?

LH: Absolutely, absolutely. This is motor racing and if there's a penalty, then there's something wrong because I was ahead going into that corner, so I didn't gain an advantage from it. We were still able to race at the next corner and I gave him his spot back, and I think it was fair and square, so I think it would be absolutely wrong. But you know what they're like, so we will see.

Q: (Mark Danby - Auto Magazine)

Lewis, later around that lap, just talk us through what it was like going through Pouhon when you both went wide and then going into Fagnes when you got onto the grass. Did you think you'd lost the race at that point?

LH: Going across the grass? I did. Well, we went into turn ten and I think we both had an oversteer moment going in, very, very fortunate to catch it. Then I think Kimi took a much wider line than me and we went into turn 12 and I braked very early. I could see that Rosberg ahead had obviously had a spin, and instead of driving around that way, he drove round more towards me and was coming back onto the track, and at that point I was going relatively wide towards him. I had to turn left to avoid him, but then Kimi was with me as well, he nearly hit him, so we both nearly hit him but I think Kimi managed to keep it on the track somehow. I went across the grass, I thought that I had lost it then but then I saw Kimi spin it. It was just chopping and changing, it was just so much fun and my heart was racing, probably more than it ever has before. What an exciting race and what a great feeling it is to bring it back in those conditions. It's beyond anything you can imagine, so the ones who did bring it home on slicks have done a great job.

Q: (James Allen - ITV)

I've got two questions for Lewis. When you came across the line after the incident you've just described, he was definitely in front of you. It said Räikkönen - Hamilton, first and second. That was on the timing screens and it will on the charts, but maybe at issue is the fact that you hadn't lost enough momentum or something. You said you were still accelerating, so could you just explain exactly what you did to let him past? And then the second thing is there was an incident before that where I think you both had a bit of a moment with a Williams and you both nearly hit each other and the Williams was coming back on the track. There were some yellow flags waving there. Was the Williams actually off the track and came back on? It was very hard to tell on the television.

LH: Firstly, what I did, I'd basically taken a short-cut, so I couldn't just accelerate straight from there and keep going, I had to wait - he was in my blind spot - I had to wait until I could see him. I didn't want to wait until he'd flown past because we were still racing. Eventually I could see him accelerating and I knew, OK, this is alright, so I began to accelerate but slowly. I don't believe I was full throttle, I was waiting for him to accelerate past which he did. What more could I do, I don't know what more I could have done? And the second question: there were yellow flags, I was looking in the mirror, hoping that Kimi wouldn't crash into me. Rosberg was off the circuit and I was running wide but I wasn't going off, I was just running wide towards the white line, but then Rosberg was coming back on, exactly at the point in which I was heading, so I had to turn left to avoid him and take the exit road and go across the grass, otherwise I would have crashed with him.

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