“After strug­gling quit eabi t for aco uple of races i tw asn’t easy men­tally .I was quite con­fused. Yo ust a rtt odo ub ty our­self ”

Autosport (UK) - - PIT + PADDOCK/LETTERS -

def­i­nitely seen that pat­tern on the smooth sur­faces. It was al­ways bet­ter for me this year, and I haven’t seen the pat­tern in the last years. With this car, it re­ally high­lights the dif­fer­ences of how we drive.

Your team-mate be­came a four­time world cham­pion this year.

What have you no­ticed about the level he drives at com­pared to your pre­vi­ous team-mates, and how do you plan to take the next step?

I al­ways knew that he’s re­ally tal­ented, and he’s quick in any cir­cum­stances, al­ways. But that also comes from hard work – he works hard with the team. I think this year what he’s been do­ing bet­ter than me comes mainly from ex­pe­ri­ence. He’s re­act­ing to dif­fer­ent con­di­tions, dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, dif­fer­ent set-up is­sues, dif­fer­ent things with driv­ing. Ul­ti­mately, me­chan­i­cally, the [Mercedes] car hasn’t changed much from the past few years, in terms of how it be­haves, but it was very dif­fer­ent from how the Wil­liams be­haved, so there have been many things for me to learn, and I’ve been catch­ing up on things all the time. Ex­pe­ri­ence helps a lot, just mak­ing the most out of ev­ery sin­gle sit­u­a­tion. With what I’ve learned this year, I believe I can be much more com­plete, a quicker driver on av­er­age next year. I also think start­ing the sea­son with a team I now know is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent men­tally.

Did the new con­tract make any dif­fer­ence, be­cause you got the ex­ten­sion and your form dipped, so it might look like you re­laxed the in­ten­sity? And do you feel the oneyear ex­ten­sion is fair, or do you think you de­served a longer-term con­tract?

I can for sure say that it had no ef­fect – I didn’t have it on my mind at all. I was just fo­cus­ing on my goal

– to be quicker, and bet­ter. With the one-year [deal], I’ve been kind of al­ways in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, so it’s noth­ing new for me, and I un­der­stand the team also wants to keep all op­tions open. I need to prove my­self next year that I de­serve [to be] long term with the team, and if I per­form, as al­ways in For­mula 1, then ev­ery­thing will be good.

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