It’s a cold, dark mid­win­ter af­ter­noon and the sleepy mar­ket town of Brack­ley is go­ing about its daily busi­ness. Few of its good denizens will have no­ticed the new sign placed at the en­trance to Rey­nard Way – por­tal to Brack­ley’s most rockstar res­i­dents. It reads ‘Mercedes AMG For­mula One Team: 2014 world cham­pi­ons’.

In­side the foyer of team HQ, for­merly home of BAR-Honda, then Brawn GP, the Mercedes F1 W05 Hy­brid is the proud cen­tre­piece of a new re­cep­tion lay­out. A cou­ple of oors up, en­gi­neers qui­etly toil at their CFD screens, seek­ing a new per­for­mance edge. A cou­ple of doors down, the world cham­pion sud­denly ap­pears, look­ing re­freshed and re­laxed af­ter a win­ter away from rac­ing. Lewis Hamil­ton is primed and ready for an­other gru­elling cam­paign. He picks up the Fe­bru­ary is­sue of F1 Rac­ing and stud­ies in­tently the Wil­liams FW37 that fea­tures on its cover. “It looks like they’ve copied our sus­pen­sion,” he muses, not­ing de­tails of the nose and the front wish­bones. “Ha, we’ve changed that now!”

Lewis will begin a new sea­son in a lit­tle over a month, his aim be­ing to claim back-to-back ti­tles. But be­fore that, there’s the small mat­ter of an­swer­ing your ques­tions to at­tend to…

Con­grat­u­la­tions on be­ing world cham­pion. Did it feel dif­fer­ent to when you rst won it in 2008? Jes­sica Kelsey, UK Yeah. This cham­pi­onship was bet­ter be­cause I’ve been in a much hap­pier place. When I was younger – I don’t re­ally re­mem­ber 2008 very well – I wasn’t re­ally my own man. My dad was a big driv­ing force. Now I stand on my own two feet, pay my own bills, look af­ter my­self and make my own de­ci­sions. I make my choices on my own, in terms of how I pre­pare and ap­proach things and the sac­ri­fices I make. Do’s and don’ts are what got me to win that cham­pi­onship. And that’s some­thing to be re­ally proud of.

How have you been cel­e­brat­ing your world ti­tle? John Her­bert, UK I’ve not been cel­e­brat­ing it, to be hon­est. Right af­ter the last race I had a lot of ap­pear­ances and in­ter­views and I didn’t re­ally go out un­til the New Year. Then I went ski­ing and snow­board­ing and that was great fun – that was my re­ward.

For you per­son­ally Lewis, what would it mean to equal your hero, Ayr­ton Senna, by win­ning three world ti­tles? Dave Arm­strong, Canada It would be very cool. I’ve al­ways wanted to em­u­late Ayr­ton, hav­ing read all the books about him and watched the videos. Grow­ing up, tar­get­ing the three world cham­pi­onships

– that was the spe­cial num­ber. Michael Schu­macher suc­ceeded fur­ther, but when I was young the greats had scored three. I’m hop­ing that I can win one more cham­pi­onship to get to three and make it onto that list of greats. Peo­ple say that I’m ‘a great’, but I don’t feel I ever could be con­sid­ered a great un­til I’m at least in that zone – and that’s one more cham­pi­onship. Then at least I’d feel like I had reached the min­i­mum stan­dard. Be­yond that is an­other level.

Given that you’ve part­nered both of them, how do you think Jen­son But­ton will cope with Fer­nando Alonso at McLaren? Bill Allen, UK Jen­son is a very easy-go­ing guy. He’s very tal­ented and hard-work­ing. I’ll be as in­ter­ested as any­one to see how he does. Fer­nando is ob­vi­ously very quick, but I think Jen­son will be ne. He’ll do ev­ery­thing he can to beat him. F1R: You’ve been there, so you know how much fun it is! LH: Yeah, I’ve been up against both of them and there are pros and cons to both driv­ers as there are with ev­ery­one. Why do you think Nico had a slight edge over you in qual­i­fy­ing last sea­son? Christo­pher Moore, Switzer­land [Drums his ngers on the ta­ble while work­ing out how to re­spond] I think in qual­i­fy­ing last year a lot of it was what peo­ple didn’t see – which is how lit­tle time you have and how few changes you are able to make to the car. If you go down the wrong path it’s very dif­fi­cult to step back be­cause there are so many dif­fer­ent en­gi­neer­ing paths to choose.

Last year, for the rst time I prob­a­bly got it wrong more times that in the past. The track is green at the start of the week­end and you can’t pre­dict ex­actly how it’s go­ing to progress, so in P1 you make some changes. Then into P2 those changes are not rel­e­vant so the car’s crap. Then what do you do? Do you go back to start from the be­gin­ning, or do you change?

So there were some races where I got a lit­tle lost with my en­gi­neers and af­ter P3 we were un­do­ing all the changes or mak­ing other changes that meant, set-up wise, I was go­ing into qual­i­fy­ing blind. Also, I knew it wasn’t the op­ti­mum. But there were other times when the poles I got meant I was on the right path – but that’s some­thing I’m go­ing to im­prove this year.

Which of your Christ­mas presents did you like the most? Kaz Theuri, UK I didn’t re­ally get a lot of Christ­mas presents and I’m not a big fan of re­ceiv­ing gifts. I would rather some­one spent their money con­struc­tively and not on me. For ex­am­ple, if some­one spon­sored an an­i­mal or a child, or do­nated it to char­ity.

Last Christ­mas I had my cousins and fam­ily over and it brought me great joy to watch the chil­dren en­joy­ing their presents. I did get a cou­ple of things I liked; my mum got me a cool Beats Pill speaker. And, like ev­ery­one else, I got loads of cologne and shower gel. I’ve got so much of that stuff, thanks to all the ho­tels I stay in I don’t need any more!

Is U Can’t Touch This by MC Ham­mer now one of your favourite songs? Peter Smith, UK It’s never been one of my favourite songs, it’s just that when I was a kid, as a Hamil­ton, peo­ple used the nick­name ‘Ham­mer’ and ‘Ham­mer­head shark’ and my en­gi­neer used to say to me: “It’s time to push,” and I’m like: “Dude, I’m al­ready push­ing, so WTF?!” So in­stead I’d say, ‘Tell me it’s Hammertime when it’s re­ally time to go’, be­cause when I was grow­ing up and go­ing to clubs, my friends used to have ‘Hammertime’ as a catch­phrase as it’s re­lated to MC Ham­mer’s dance. And when he says ‘Hammertime’ it’s time to go – that’s when he did the crab walk.

Why did you choose to race with num­ber 44 on your car this year, rather than with the pres­ti­gious num­ber one? Al­bert Hof­man, Hol­land I know that the num­ber one is meant to be my num­ber this year. I know that’s my po­si­tion, but

44 means so much more to me. I want to win the cham­pi­onship and be at the top. But 44 is what I started with [he used the num­ber in kart­ing] and it has been most loyal to me my whole life. No one else has had it. No one else has shared it – so it’s per­sonal to me. Vet­tel and Alonso and all the re­cent cham­pi­ons have had num­ber one, which has been shared around. But 44 is unique to me. How do you mo­ti­vate your­self when things go dis­as­trously wrong? Chris Farr, UK I don’t need to mo­ti­vate my­self when things go wrong; the mo­ti­va­tion is al­ready there within me. I’m al­ways car­ry­ing my two chains around with me, and when I put them in my pocket and then pull them back out later they are usu­ally tan­gled up. I nd that how I deal with dif­fi­cult is­sues is sim­i­lar to how I tackle the prob­lem of un­tan­gling my chains. You can ei­ther get an­gry and frus­trated by try­ing to pull them apart, or you can be metic­u­lous and think about it and care­fully de­tach them – and that’s what I al­ways do. So when I work with my en­gi­neers I ap­ply the same ap­proach. I take a step back and try to ob­serve ev­ery­thing with a calm ap­proach. Also I do my best to try to mo­ti­vate the peo­ple around me – I don’t get an­gry and frus­trated and pull them down. I al­ways at­tempt to make it pos­i­tive. What mu­sic do you lis­ten to on race day? Michael Bragg, USA I lis­ten to lots of dif­fer­ent mu­sic. I lis­ten to The Week­end or Kayne West. There’s usu­ally one track that I tend to get into in the week of the race and then I spend most of the week­end lis­ten­ing to just that one song. Of­ten I’ll put the mu­sic I’m lis­ten­ing to up on Spo­tify and then peo­ple can go on­line and see what stuff I have. Now the sea­son is over and you won. So tell us: do you think Nico did it on pur­pose in qual­i­fy­ing for the Monaco Grand Prix? Jonny Pop­per, UK I’m not go­ing to an­swer that one. There’s no point talk­ing about things in the past like that. Can you see your­self back in a McLaren one day? Ja­son Sul­tana, Malta Per­son­ally, I can’t. F1 driv­ers don’t have a re­ally long ca­reer, and while I never say never I feel like I’ve had a long stretch at McLaren. I raced there from 2007 to 2012 and I was there from the age of 13 on their young driver scheme. I feel like I achieved ev­ery­thing I needed to there. I’m in this new phase now. Af­ter that – who knows? But you can never say never. How did you cel­e­brate your 30th birth­day? Do­minika Bo­jar, Poland Friends took me to Ve­gas for two days… which was pretty danger­ous! Are you tempted to do what Nico Hülken­berg is do­ing this year and have a go a Le Mans? And if not now is it some­thing you’d like to try in the fu­ture? Ian Wright, UK Not re­ally, no. I quite like Le Mans, but it’s not some­thing that draws me and I’ve never thought that one day I have to do it. I don’t know why it is, but it might be be­cause I’d be shar­ing the car with peo­ple. I like to drive my own car, I don’t want to share it. If I do Le Mans, then I’d want to drive it for 24 hours – which you can’t do! Who do you think will win the cham­pi­onship this year? Maja Tyrbo, Swe­den Silly ques­tion [dis­cards card] – that’s what I’m work­ing to­wards. Will you be us­ing your old yel­low hel­met this sea­son? Please do! Ruben Reynolds, Nor­way No, I’m go­ing to keep my white hel­met. Mainly be­cause the yel­low doesn’t suit this car, it doesn’t look good with it. I still have the same base de­sign, but it just doesn’t look good. I tried to de­sign an­other hel­met in yel­low, but it wasn’t

right. It didn’t have the swag with the out­fit I’ve got. If I have a black suit one day, then I’ll go back to yel­low. You’ve driven for McLaren and Mercedes, two big mar­quee names in mo­tor­sport. Is there a de­sire within you to drive for Fer­rari in the fu­ture? Wong Yew Liang, Sin­ga­pore I like Fer­rari road cars, but over the course of my ca­reer I haven’t ever had a dy­ing feel­ing to drive for Fer­rari. Senna was my favourite racer and he drove for McLaren, so nat­u­rally that was the car I re­ally wanted to drive. But I was also in­spired by watch­ing videos of Fan­gio in his Sil­ver Ar­rows and I re­ally wanted to drive that car, too. But nat­u­rally a red car is a beau­ti­ful car and I can never say never. Would it be weird to have never driven the red car that so many oth­ers have in their ca­reers? I just don’t know. But Senna never drove one, so I don’t think it would be too bad if I didn’t. If you could have any su­per­power, what would you choose? Saf Ghouri, UK I’d want to be Su­per­man. I want to be able to y. Su­per­man ies into space and be­yond – that’s what I want to do [laughs]. Do you feel you can talk openly about your faith? Keep up the pos­i­tive in­spi­ra­tion! Dar­ren Orm­rod, UK Yes, ab­so­lutely. It’s the way I ap­proach it. Ev­ery­one has their own opin­ions. What any­one else be­lieves or cares about is up to them. Ev­ery­one has the free­dom of choice. That’s the great thing we have in life. I would never push what I be­lieve onto other peo­ple and I’m also very re­spect­ful of other re­li­gions. It’s never been a prob­lem. There is a cer­tain way I feel about my reli­gion and what it’s done for me. I get a lot of pos­i­tives from it. How many tat­toos do you have – and will you be adding any more to cel­e­brate your sec­ond world cham­pi­onship? Anna Fran­cis, UK I don’t have any to cel­e­brate win­ning the world cham­pi­onship, but I’ve been plan­ning – for a long time now – to get an­other tat­too. I have one big sleeve, one full back, two on my chest and I have more com­ing.

“I like Fer­rari road cars, but I haven’t ever had a dy­ing feel­ing to drive for Fer­rari. Senna never drove one, so I don’t think it would be too bad if I didn’t”

Dur­ing the race week­end there isn’t very much al­lo­cated time for driv­ers to be able to in­ter­act with their fans. How do you feel about that sit­u­a­tion and what could be done to im­prove it? Chan­tal Per­men­tier, Hol­land The fan in­ter­ac­tion is great; the fans to­tally make the rac­ing week­end what it is. And what I re­ally love is all those peo­ple who have saved up and trav­elled so far just to be at the races. It’s mov­ing when you meet th­ese peo­ple around the globe and they give me so much en­ergy and mo­ti­vate me through­out the year. I love it and I wish that there was more time for it. I get pulled away from sign­ing ses­sions and there are still more peo­ple in the queue, but you have to get back to the en­gi­neer­ing and you can’t sat­isfy ev­ery­one. I would love to meet more peo­ple and connect with them. That’s what I am try­ing to do with all my so­cial me­dia stuff, to bring the fans closer to my life and al­low them to spend some time with me. You’ve said in the past that it was great to race against Michael Schu­macher. How did his ac­ci­dent af­fect you? Ricky Goshawk, Sin­ga­pore What hap­pened to Michael is a con­stant re­minder of how frag­ile life is. You re­ally do have to cher­ish ev­ery mo­ment, be­cause you never know when some­thing might hap­pen to you or a loved one. If I ever have any fear in life, it’s of that un­known mo­ment that will come at some stage per­haps. I keep Michael and his fam­ily in my prayers and I keep in con­tact with his peo­ple, too. If you were in a plane that was go­ing down and you owned two para­chutes but you were trav­el­ling with Nico Ros­berg and Fer­nando Alonso, who would you give the other parachute to – or would you take both para­chutes with you? Rob Der­byshire, UK I would wear one. I’d let the other two ght over the sec­ond one. I’d then jump out and if one of them was fall­ing with­out a parachute… I’d grab them and help them! Who’s your most inuen­tial hero? Jeff Blut­man, Australia Muham­mad Ali. And prob­a­bly above him would be Nel­son Man­dela. Af­ter win­ning the world cham­pi­onship with Mercedes in 2014, what is your fu­ture with the team be­yond 2015? Joe Fil­letti, Malta Hope­fully to have a long fu­ture with Mercedes. To be con­tin­ued… Who has been your tough­est ri­val dur­ing your ca­reer in For­mula 1 so far? Gior­gos Zoup­pouris, Cyprus [Drums ta­ble] As far as I can re­mem­ber, Fer­nando has been my tough­est com­peti­tor so far. But if I knew then what I knew now, would it have been as hard? I don’t know. He was a two-time cham­pion whereas I had no ex­pe­ri­ence and I beat him. But what I learnt in that year from him, is that in terms of nat­u­ral tal­ent he is denitely the best.

Lewis in his Merc and Kimi in his Fer­rari: “I was in­spired by watch­ing videos of Fan­gio in his Sil­ver Ar­rows”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.