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Lewis Hamilton: “Obviously we both wanted it…”

Lewis Hamilton got his hands on his second World Championship after a superb victory in Abu Dhabi on a day when team mate and rival Nico Rosberg was struck by technical problems.

The Brit’s 11th win of 2014 finally secured him a title to add to the one he earned with McLaren back in 2008.

“This has been an incredible year,” said Hamilton. “I just cannot believe how amazing this has all been. Coming to this team last year, the decision to come here, when a lot of people said it was the wrong choice, the steps we took last year and then coming into this year, it was just unbelievable. And the fan support has been phenomenal. I never in a million years thought I’d have that kind of support.

“I said coming into this weekend that I wouldn’t change the season, the way it’s gone, for anything really because I’ve learnt a lot. If anything, I felt very, very strong with the way I came out of the good and the bad.”

Regarding his relationship with Rosberg he said: “I think it’s been so intense between Nico and myself all year long. There’s been good moments and bad moments. Without a doubt we’ve had a friendship or a relationship that we built a long, long, long time ago, so that will always be there. He was a very, very fierce competitor this year, he did an exceptional job. He’s going to be quick for a long time. I’ve got to pick up my qualifying pace for next year. It could have been either one of us.

“Obviously we both wanted it. But I think with our relationship, we’ll continue to try to lift the team up, we’ll work together as we have done all year long. Perhaps things naturally will ease up a little now. He was graceful enough to come up to me and see me after the race, which I really appreciated. It was really big of him to be able to do that. It’s very, very tough, I know what it’s like losing a championship so, for sure, we’ll keep working at it.”

Hamilton admitted that it had been a season of emotional highs and lows.

“Spa was a low moment. It was a very difficult scenario to be in and going back years ago, I wouldn’t have reacted the way I did this year. I would have chosen another way, which wouldn’t have been a positive, and I guess with age, and just maturing and having a different perspective on life, I think I handled it a different way, I really thought for the following days and really turned my focus to a different area.

“I came back to the next races with a slightly different approach and I won’t explain exactly what I did because I need to bring it to the next races next year but I did tweak some of my approach throughout the weekend which helped me get those wins. I’ve still got some improvements to make, qualifying was good this year but could be better. It would make it much easier if I could get qualifying sorted because the race pace is very much there.”

Lewis is currently signed up until the end of next season, but he is expected to sign an extended deal soon.

“This really is something incredibly special, what this team has put together, and I think we’ve got great people in their right positions. Me and Nico will continue to push the team forward, as will the boss of Mercedes, who have been so committed and building the best engine. These guys know just as much as I do, it’s been phenomenal this year. I think it’s really important the steps we take moving forwards to continue improving and I 100 percent believe the team will do that. I’m looking forward to battling with people for sure, but I do believe that we’ll be there fighting with people hopefully for some time.

“I definitely don’t feel that I’m looking for a new challenge. As I said when I joined this team, I wanted to be a part of something that was building and growing and knew success like the team hadn’t really had before. And so I feel like this is just the beginning. We still have another year to go, so there’s no particular rush, but this is my home. I feel very happy here. And obviously the team did a mega job, so I’m forever grateful for them.”

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Wolff admits Mercedes made wrong strategy call for Hamilton

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the team made the wrong call when Lewis Hamilton was told to stay out before his second pit stop in Brazil.

Hamilton was originally told to come in a lap after Nico Rosberg, and he looked set to take the lead – but he was so fast that he was then requested to do an extra lap. However he had taken so much performance out of the tyres that he spun.

“He got the call ‘Hammer Time,’ and he really squeezed all the performance out of the car,” said Wolff. “Because he was so quick and did purple sector times that stint was extended by another lap. You could see that he lost the car on entry, with a little snap, but there was no way of recovering because the tyres were just completely gone on the rear.

“We have to analyse why. Probably when the tyres are so much over the edge like they have been even though you extract so much performance out of that lap before. In hindsight we should have pitted him, but that was the only thing which you could pick out of the day’s performance and say it wasn’t perfect.”

Regarding Rosberg’s pole and victory Wolff said: “Very impressive. Psychologically I guess that weekend was very important for him, dominating every session and then winning the race, with Lewis Hamilton behind your back, pushing hard, withholding that push and keeping it cool together shows that he wasn’t only a great qualifier this season, but he showed also the skills to win a race against a guy who is leading the championship.

“Although victory isn’t enough for him for Abu Dhabi, psychologically and for the fans and for F1 it’s a great rebound, and it’s going to make us look excitedly towards Abu Dhabi.”

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I’m not thinking about double points, says Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton says he is not thinking about the possibility of losing the World Championship to Nico Rosberg on double points – and says he’s just focussed in winning the next two races.

“You can’t be thinking about it,” he said after his US GP success. “It’s a fact that that is a possibility, but that’s not something that I’m willing to accept, so I’m going to be pushing as hard as I can. I want to win the next races, I want to get as many points as I can. It’s not something I can be thinking of, what happens if this happens in the future? If we lived our life with ‘what if’ maybe you won’t achieve what you set out to achieve.

Regarding his Austin win, he said: “I feel quite good all round. Practice was really good, qualifying was weak – there were two reasons, it wasn’t just the brakes, my driving lines weren’t actually the best. I studied hard last night and fixed that today, and it worked really well. On the race day since I was eight years old I’ve known how I can race, and that still was the same today. My dad always says drive like you stole it! That’s what I do.”

Hamilton says he is better able to deal with title showdowns than in the past.

“I think I’m definitely in a different place to back then. Part of that is just experience, and part of that is just getting older, and having those experiences of winning and losing. I kind of feel that I understand the approach that I need. There’s no real special recipe, or anything like that. Just going to work my arse off for the next two races and try to improve.

“There’s stuff that I can still take out of today. Today is not just a win, there’s a lot of things that I can take out of today in terms of how I drove, the things that I should have done perhaps for qualifying that I didn’t pick up on, which were visible from previous years, small things like that, I have to make sure I pick up on that. It’s just always trying to make sure that you leave no stone unturned, so that after the race you can say you did everything you could.”

Asked about Rosberg’s mental state he said: “I don’t know. It’s something I’m really concerned about. I don’t think about it, I’m just focussing on my job and not thinking about Nico’s.”

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Mercedes still perplexed by reliability issues

The ongoing reliability problems at Mercedes have given the team a lot of cause for concern, and team boss Toto Wolff insists that everything is being done that could be done to address the issues.

Mercedes has a group of engineers focussed on improving reliability, and Wolff has faith in their ability.

“We have a great reliability team,” he said. “This is a group of people who are really dedicated to quality, and I’m really proud of their department. Considering that fact it’s even more astonishing that we keep continuing to have those issues.

“If we could make anything more to stop the DNFs, we would do it, I would break my arm again in order to stop the reliability issues! We just have to get on top of the problems.”

Inevitably Mercedes is concerned about how the eventual championship will be perceived, especially if one of the drivers suffers another critical retirement.

“We don’t want to have the spin in there that the championship was decided because one car let the driver down, so we need to refocus, and keep our heads down, and keep concentrating and finding out what we can, what the utmost is which can be done to prevent DNFs and reliability problems.”

Regarding his pep talk with Rosberg he said: “I told him that I was sorry for having let him down. We are doing this in both directions, you need to be just open and have that philosophy in the team that whoever f***s up, you need to take that on you, and he was OK. But there’s not a lot you can do in that moment. It was just important as a team member you shouldn’t be over the moon following the other car that’s in the lead, and one breaks down, you don’t want to have that. You want to balance that.”

Rosberg’s problem in Singapore could not be solved by changing steering wheels.

“It looks like it was a broken loom within the steering column, a loom that was within the duty cycle, it was not something which was going towards the end of its life cycle. It just shut the whole thing down. The only thing which functioned was the gearchange, and then the radio came back. There was no hybrid energy any more.

“When we called him in we changed the steering wheel, tried to get it going, but it wouldn’t. The only way of getting it going would have been to put first gear and high revs, and this is when I said stop. We didn’t want to have a jack flying out of the rear of the car and hurting somebody.”

“The whole thing is going out of the car, it’s going with us to the UK tonight, and we are trying to analyse it in a really forensic way to try to understand where our problems started and why it appeared when he went in the car and was just about to leave the garage.”

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Hamilton quick despite losing time in garage

Lewis Hamilton lost almost an hour of valuable track time in FP2 in Monza today, but still managed to run team mate Nico Rosberg close – and finish with the top time of the day.

Unusually the headline time in FP1 was faster than that set in the afternoon session. Hamilton was fastest on 1m26.187s in that first session, while Rosberg was top in FP2, but slightly slower overall on 1m26.225s.

In the afternoon session Hamilton hit electronic problems – with the engine that was involved in a fire in Hungarian GP qualifying. The car would not start, and he lost some 57 minutes. He eventually ran only 16 laps compared to the 41 of his team mate, although he was only 0.041s slower after traffic hampered what should have been a better lap. He will have a different engine for tomorrow.

“They couldn’t start the car,” said Hamilton. “But the guys did a great job to get me back out, so I got a few laps at least. They managed to recover the one that burned to pieces [in Hungary]. It’s driven really well today, apart from not starting.

“I felt very good after the first session. I made a small change just now. I went out, I didn’t have a lot of laps, but the car feels great. Obviously we’ve got a very competitive car this weekend, and we’ve got a good chance tomorrow. Tomorrow hopefully I’ll get the whole session, so hopefully I’ll get a bit more running.

“It’s quite an important circuit to put it up front, it’s very difficult to overtake here. I’ve not had a good qualifying for seven or eight races, whatever it is, so I really hope that this weekend I can rectify that.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “There’s still a lot of points available…”

Not surprisingly perhaps Lewis Hamilton says he wants to move on from the Spa controversy and focus on the rest of the 2014 season.

Hamilton and team mate Nico Rosberg both met the F1 media today for the first time since the Belgian GP.

“I’m really excited about moving forward,” he said. “I feel energetic, I had a good couple of days break last week, so excited to be here, this is one of my favourite circuits so I hope that we can have a good weekend.

“I know it’s something you all want to talk about but after the race it was important to really try and move forwards and that’s really what I’m focussing on. What’s happened in the past is in the past and it is what it is. I’m excited to get back in the car. I have seven races, there’s still a lot of points available and so that’s my focus.”

Asked about issues of trust with his team mate he said: “I think I already said everything in the press release. Trust is a big word and it’s not something I would particularly apply to racing on the track. Naturally, me and Nico have been racing for a long time and I think we have set a good foundation a long, long time ago so that’s what we work from.”

Lewis was also asked about whether or not the Mercedes garage was now divided, with key people taking sides.

“I don’t know if that’s the case. We have a very professional team and yeah I mean they just want to win. So they’ll be working as hard as they can. Also the guys working in the garage work collectively for the pit stops. That thought doesn’t even cross my mind. I think the guys will be working flat out this weekend. They know we have the chance to have one-twos and to win the championship for both the Drivers and the Constructors and I think they will giving it their all.
Hamilton also denied that he had but a halt to any negotiations for 2016 and beyond.
“Well, I haven’t said that I was freezing anything. We’re constantly talking with the team – but I think at the moment the priority is to win the championship. I still have a contract for a whole other year on top of this one, so there is no rush. But I do want to say that I see my future with Mercedes. I’m really happy there.”

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Mercedes drivers still free to race as Rosberg apologises

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg met with Mercedes team bosses Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff at Brackley this morning to discuss the Belgian GP incident – and the drivers were reminded that they are free to race, but must not make contact.

Rosberg meanwhile took responsibility for what happened at Spa, and apologised.

A team statement said: “During this meeting, Nico acknowledged his responsibility for the contact that occurred on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix and apologised for this error of judgement.

“Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident.

“Mercedes-Benz remains committed to hard, fair racing because this is the right way to win world championships. It is good for the team, for the fans and for Formula One.

“Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team’s number one rule: there must be no contact between the team’s cars on track.

“It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico and Lewis are our drivers and we believe in them.

“They remain free to race for the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship.”

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