Lewis Hamilton Q&A: The Mercedes driver on how his life has changed since leaving McLaren and having to learn the fast way
By Sky Sports Online. Last Updated: 12/04/13 7:23am
A transcript of the 2008 World Champion's press briefing on Thursday night after the first day of the second Barcelona test
What did you learn at the last test and what do you expect to learn from this test?
Lewis Hamilton: "At the last test we were learning more about the tyres, learning more about set-up changes, I was coming to grips with all the different functions on the steering wheel, race procedures and launch procedures, and the things we talk about in the race such as ride-height characteristics - all those sort of things.
"For this test, we are still learning those things, and obviously we have upgrades coming so we will be trying to pinpoint how they are affecting the car. If there are any small reliability issues then we will be trying to put pressure on the team to work hard on that, and then we will be learning more about the tyres."
It was wet and windy at Barcelona on Thursday. How difficult were the conditions on track?LH: "It was pretty easy, to be honest. Of course it was wet and slippery, but I enjoy these conditions so it wasn't much sweat, it was no real problem."
How did you find the Pirelli wet tyres?
LH: "The wets are the same, I believe. If I'm honest, I don't really know but they felt exactly the same as last year!"
How are you enjoying your new life [at Mercedes] and the extra freedom?
LH: "It's great - although it's not that I have more freedom, it's just that I have more time in my life. But I'm still in the racing team, I'm still devoted to helping the team move forward and improve - it's just in a new environment.
"I am absolutely loving it. I'm so happy working with the people I'm working with. They are just so enthusiastic and willing to improve, and they're making a really huge effort at communicating with me and making sure we're up to speed for the first race.
"They've obviously made some good steps forward compared to last year and they seem to be on the right track. We're moving in the right direction and so I couldn't be happier with everything at the moment."
How familiar are you now with all the team members?
LH: "I know who to go to for certain things but I still don't know everyone's name off by heart. In the debrief, I have a sheet of paper with the tables laid out and all their names so that when someone is speaking I am always looking [at the sheet] to put a name to the voice and also the face. I'm still learning and in the garage it was only today that I met my race crew for the first time so I'm looking forward to get to know them all over the next couple of days."
After so many years at McLaren, how will being at Mercedes change you?
LH: "I definitely feel I can improve as a person and as a driver as whole. There are always areas for improvement and I am always trying to learn more - there are so many things that I can learn."
What is the difference between the way Mercedes and McLaren work?
LH: "We still have sponsors, we still have sponsor appearances and filming days, so there is not a huge, huge difference in the way they go about their business.
"But the focus is on the driver, the driver's performance, the driver being ready for the job at hand - that's the one thing I'm noticing is a little bit better here. They want me to be as ready as I can possibly be physically and mentally and want to do everything possible for that be taken care of - and that's something great to experience."
How much more frustrating is it as a driver who has just changed teams and who has so much still to learn to have a bad-weather day like today?
LH: "Well, I completed 113 laps so today wasn't that discouraging or frustrating, I'm quite happy with the amount of laps. We got plenty of running in the rain to understand the balance, the tyres, brakes and all those type of things, and then I got some running at the end in the kind-of-dry so I think it was a really productive day given the conditions.
"It's quite a different beast I am driving. From one team to another, one team will use the tyres more than another, and I've definitely noticed over the years that some teams will be lighter on its tyres or harder on its tyres and so it's been really interesting to drive a different car and see how it works with its tyres. There might be different mechanical set-ups to enable a tyre to go longer, or not, and that's what I am trying to understand."
Following his appointment at Force India, Adrian Sutil said you have no relationship and you haven't spoken for over a year. What do you think will happen when you get to talk to him again?
LH: "I've emailed him a couple of times and I emailed him a while ago, because I heard there was the potential chance that he might get the seat, saying that I would say a prayer for him and hoped he would get the seat because he deserved it.
"I also emailed him on the way here as soon as I found out, saying congratulations, and that I was happy for him. I haven't heard back from him but I'm sure at some stage we will get to talk.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing him because I haven't seen him for a while. I think it's a great opportunity for him, I really, really wish him all the best for the year and in the messages I sent I said to him that I hope he goes out there and proves to everyone it was the right decision."
Have you had any dreams about Melbourne and what it is going to be like? Have you thought about it much?
LH: "I haven't to be honest. I don't normally dream about a race until I get there. But I'm very, very excited. I don't want to wish any of the days away, although obviously it's very exciting to get to the first race. I want to enjoy every day I have with the family, and the dog, and the car, and I don't want the year to go past too quick.
"But I definitely feel as if I am getting up to speed with the car and the way people work. I definitely don't feel lost or worried. I feel like the team have given me every opportunity to learn and to come to terms with everything, so I'm really happy about that."
Tell us about the psychology of how you feel about being re-energized and how it feels after moving teams?
LH: "It's difficult to explain, although I'm sure plenty of you have been through the experience of moving companies, but it's just re-energizing.
"You have to be more prepared than ever, more focused than ever, be on time more, be more productive when speaking to all members of the team, you have to approach the media in a slightly different way...lots of different but positive things.
"But overall, I'm just enjoying it - getting to know new people and being in a different environment. It's just been a really great experience.
"It's a huge challenge as an individual to go somewhere new and have to rush - because I don't have a lot of days in the car- so to grasp it and really maximize it is the challenge that I am really enjoying."