MAY 26, 2011
Lewis Hamilton on Spain, Monaco and Red Bull
Hamilton speaks about the progress of the team going into the Monaco weekend.
Q: How encouraging was Barcelona?
Massively. We've been pushing to improve our race pace, the guys have been pushing very hard to improve certain parts of the car and it worked well. At the beginning of the race I was struggling to keep up a bit and I think if it hadn't been for Fernando being in front, the Red Bulls would have disappeared probably, and it would have been harder for me to close the gap. But that's not how the race went and later on I just seemed to get quicker and quicker.
Q: Is the reason that Red Bulls isn't disappearing in the race down to the tyres, being unable to use the car's performance, or is it more complicated?
There's more to it than that. These days the cars are more complex in a different way, with the blown diffuser and different race modes and that type of thing. It appears that when they get to Q3 they turn something up and they get a big chunk of time. But they do also have in general, even in the race, great stability when they are on-power. Through the last corner of Barcelona, through Turn 3 they were flat-out throughout qualifying, but when we get to qualifying we can generally only do the corner at a similar speed to the race. That's a massive amount of time they gain.
Q: Logic would say that they are getting more out of the hot blown diffuser?
Yes. Well, they were the first ones to go with the blown diffuser and it's just like when the Brawns were the first to do the double diffuser. They had the advantage for a long time. Red Bull were the first to do the blown diffuser and everyone's been playing catch-up and we still are.
Q: Does that mean you have to work on qualifying performance?
If we had qualifying performance I think we could beat them in the race. I think I showed in Spain that I had the fastest race pace throughout the whole race. So that just shows that if I can get on the front row we'd be in a good position to have a good race with them. It's difficult to overtake them in the race because their car is very, very good, they've got mega pit stops, which helps as well, and so, yes, qualifying is an area we have to work on.
Q: You love Monaco, is pole position on here?
I'd love to say yes and I definitely feel I've got it within me to qualify on pole but it really just depends on getting the balance right and then seeing how quick Red Bull are. They were massively quick here last year but hopefully the gap will be closer than it was in Barcelona.
Q: Will qualifying be complicated here by the supersoft only lasting a few laps at the start of the race, so you risk falling into the pack at a place you can't pass?
We've been told that the supersofts and softs will be lasting 20-plus laps. That's what I was told this morning. The engineers said to me this morning, 28 laps on one set and 23 laps on the other, something like that.
Q: Do you believe that?
Not at all! But I do believe we'll be able to stop and come out without getting stuck behind people who have started on the soft. That won't be a problem. I think it depends a bit on what state the track is in as well. I think the supersoft worked quite well in Barcelona when we tested it there. It didn't last long in Barcelona, I think we got eight laps out of it there, but this is a much, much different track. If we can get to lap 15.... it just really depends, it might be a lot different here this weekend.
Q: Some drivers rate qualifying at Monaco a bigger buzz than the race, do you feel like that?
Qualifying is probably the most exciting part of the weekend apart from the start of the race. It is very cool, especially now. Before we would just go to the fastest engine setting. Now, you go for the most powerful downforce setting for the engine, which is very neat, you put lots of front wing in, you suddenly have loads more grip and you can throw the car around like crazy. I can't wait to get into qualifying.
Q: Will there be tyre saving here like we've seen at other races?
It really depends on how much life we take out of the tyres on a qualifying lap. Because on other circuits one lap on the tyres is something like 25-30% and if it's the same here, having one new set will be beneficial, so I plan to try and keep a set if I can. But I want pole position, so if it means doing another run, I might. Generally though I can go out and do one lap.