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What Lewis Hamilton said in the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix

How newly crowned 7 times World Champion fared in the last weekend? Here is a big part of what he said during a weekend where he surely has experienced a lot of emotions

Thursday 12.11.2020 – Hamilton : “I never dreamt we could get to seven championships.”

“I never dreamt we could get to seven championships.”

“Getting one was great and it was very tough to get the second. I had to make a big decision whether I stayed put and kept travelling along or do something more adventurous (joining Mercedes).

“I took that leap of faith and I have won one after another. I am just trying to count my blessings.”

Thursday 12.11.2020 – Inspire the young generation

“That’s a question I get asked all the time,” said Hamilton of the chance to match Schumacher’s record, “and naturally, I think the numbers and the figures and the titles and all that stuff, it perhaps appears to mean more from the outside. I remember watching the TV and watching Michael get the seventh [title] and being like, ‘Wow!’ But when you’re in it, it’s different.”

“Naturally, matching an icon like Michael, I’d be incredibly proud of that, but I think it’s more the message that it sends, hopefully, to people, not just kids but hopefully mostly kids because they’re the future, that you have to dream bigger than you think you can dream – and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t go for that.”

“We’re going to continue to fight for more championships. We’re going to continue to try and improve and continue to race and do what we do, and what we love doing.

“But I think what’s important is that the journey this year has been combined with the fight for equality and a real growing process this year of learning what’s happening around the world and being a little bit more aware of surroundings and starting to see progress with that.”

Thursday 12.11.2020 – Pushing for diversity and inclusion of women in Formula One

“When people talk about diversity, people often think that we´re talking about having more people of colour,” said Hamilton, Formula One’s only Black driver.

“It´s not just that. It is having more women involved. At the moment it is a male-dominated sport and that does need to change.”

Thursday 12.11.2020 – Russell Potential Future Champion

“Looking at those that are in the early phases of their Formula 1 career, I’ve been there, many of us have been there and I know what it’s like to have experiences like that and I just wanted to show that it’s OK, don’t beat yourself down too much.

He’s going to do it his own way anyway because that’s that’s how we are wired as racing drivers. But I just wanted to show some some support because I think what he’s done, I think his approach, what he’s been able to do has been similar to if you look at Alonso, a lot of the drivers coming into one of the teams that are further back, having an opportunity to grow and improve and lead a team and and make mistakes, all those different things.

I think this year it’s just been great how he’s handled everything and what he’s done with that car to put it into into Q2 quite often and really deliver great results. I’m really impressed with his craft and how he’s growing and I really do think he really is the future. There’s several drivers that are the future of this sport, he’s one of them and I’m really excited to see his progression. And I have no doubt that he has the potential to be a future champion.”

Friday 13.11.2020 – “S*** with a capital ‘S’”: Hamilton says new surface has spoiled “fantastic” Istanbul

“This track is such a fantastic circuit and I really don’t fully understand when they spend millions to re-do a surface on the track. I know it’s been sitting around for a long time, they probably could have just cleaned it, maybe, instead of wasting all their money.”

“The track is worse than Portimao was when we had that brand new surface there. So for us the tyres aren’t working and you can see it’s like an ice rink out there.

“So you don’t get quite the enjoyment of the lap that as you would normally get in Istanbul and I don’t see that changing.”

“It’s terrifying the whole way around. It’s almost like there’s wet patches all over. So as you’re on slicks, you’re accelerating and then it goes [into a skid] so fast.

“That’s because basically you’re way below the temperature window. These tyres are so hard and they work in a certain window and so if you’re 10, 20 degrees below they’re not working, if they’re 20 degrees over they’re not working.

“For some reason this surface is so smooth. The older circuits, unlike the surface here for example, it’s much more open between the tyres so it works the tyre more. This one it’s super-closed and flat and shiny and the oil seeps from the Tarmac. It’s shit with a capital ‘S’.”

Saturday 14.11.2020 – “Least enjoyable” qualifying of his career

“It was definitely one of the least enjoyable, if not the least enjoyable that I’ve had,” Hamilton said.

“This track, the layout is so great, but the grip is so poor that you can’t really generate the grip to go through the corners at the speed we would like.

“But otherwise, it was a challenge, and challenges are always good.

“The track surface grip is the worst I’ve ever experienced in any year of racing. Considering how much downforce we have, it’s been a challenge.

“Going into the wet today made it even harder. So we were definitely limited by grip and temperature, but I’m pretty happy with the job I did.”

Saturday 14.11.2020 – “Chilled” for Sunday’s race

“I’m super chilled, man. I’m not disappointed whatsoever.”

“I did the best job I could today with the circumstances I was given, and I didn’t spin or make any mistakes. I delivered as good as I could and it was tricky for everyone and I will give it my best shot tomorrow.”

Saturday 14.11.2020 – “Congrats to Lance

“Congrats to Lawrence…to Lance sorry, on the pole. That’s pretty awesome. We look forward to fight with them tomorrow.”

Sunday 15.11.2020 – Post Race Track Interview

Q: Lewis, the mark of a great sport sporting champion is to win on the days when you are maybe not the fastest or the strongest or don’t have the best equipment. You’ve come through the pack today to become a seven-time world champion with a true champion’s drive. 

Lewis HAMILTON: Thank you, I’m a bit lost for words. Naturally, I have to start with saying such a huge thank you to all the guys here and all the guys back at the factory, both our factories, and all our partners for enabling us and giving us this opportunity. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t join this team and the journey we have been on has been monumental. I’m so proud of them. I want to also say a big thank you to team LH for sticking with me all these years and uh… then to my family you know. We dreamed of this when were young, when I was young, when we were watching the grands prix and this is way, way beyond our dreams. It’s so important for kids out there to hopefully see this and know that… don’t listen to anybody that tells you you can’t achieve something. Dream the impossible and speak it into existence. You’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to chase it and you’ve got to never give up and never doubt yourself.

Q: You have equalled the great Michael Schumacher with seven world titles. That was a drive Michael Schumacher or any of the truly great drives in our 70-year history would have been proud of?

LH: Thank you. We knew coming here it was already such a difficult weekend. We weren’t massively disappointed with our qualifying position. We knew that we were kind of on the back foot and we did the best we could. But then we learned a lot. This is what we do as a team. There is no blame game. We hash it out. We do hash it out. We continue to try to improve our communication so that we can make moves forwards. We don’t always get everything perfect. We had that small moment at the beginning of the race with the new tyres and then I couldn’t get past Seb for a while. At that point I could see Albon pulling away and I though “Jesus, this race is falling through my fingers”. But I just kept my head down and kept believing that I would eventually just pick up pace of some sort at some stage. And that’s what I did.

Q: A few laps in you were over a pit stop behind the leaders, you were nowhere. At which point did you think: “I could win this”?

LH: There was a point at which Seb was pulling away from me and I couldn’t figure out at the time what it was. I was checking my temperatures. I didn’t know if it was because the tyres were overheating or they were too cold. They went through a drier patch. I went through the real rough phase of the graining on the tyres and then it started to come back, the grip started to come back. The track was drying in some areas and I was improving my driving lines the whole way through the race and I started to pick up pace. And then Seb pitted and for me I knew that wasn’t the right choice personally and so I decided to stay out and as the tyres got more and more slick that’s exactly what you needed. Fortunately that intermediate tyre holds temperature. If I went out on new slicks I wouldn’t have made it round.

Q: Your tyres are completely slick, they are naked, they are bald. You overruled the team in the end, you didn’t fancy splashing down a wet pit lane. You though you could get it to the end.

LH: Well, you remember I lost the world championship in the pit lane and I learned my lesson from 2007 that’s for sure. I felt like I really had it under control and the grip was feeling good and I was going to deal with the rain if it dropped… oh wow.

Sunday 15.11.2020 – Post Race Press Conference

Q: Well Lewis, a wonderful race today, a wonderful season in 2020, the floor is yours. What would like to say. How do you sum it all up?

LH: Honestly I think… My dad always used to tell me to do my talking on the track, so I don’t really have a huge amount to say. The performance hopefully shows what I’m capable of and what we could all do together. In the sense of young kids out there it’s important for them to see. I dreamt this when I was five years old, to be here in Formula 1 and it’s so important to hold onto your dreams, to dream big, for all of us, it doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s taken a long time to get here but I’m forever grateful to the guys that have helped me. My team, for believing in me, Ron, for taking me on when I was a kid, Mercedes, who continued to support me all the way from 13 years old to today. Particularly to my family, you know. So grateful to them. I hope they are celebrating.

Q: You clinched the title today with a fabulous victory. Would you say this was one of your finest wins?

LH: I’ve been racing a long time, so it’s difficult to compare! I would say that generally every race fells like it’s the first. It’s unique. I don’t compare any race to any other race. I’m always in a different place in life, so I like to say they are all unique in their own way. I think for sure, this one felt like a very, very complete day on track, under the toughest circumstances. With this track and the new surface here, you see people who are professional drives, incredible drivers, you saw them losing control today, that’s how slippery and difficult the conditions were. This was a big test for me because you know, in the rain, you know what you normally do in the rain, but this is different, in the sense that this is ice! I don’t remember having an ice race before. I feel like I achieved something different today. For sure I know that not everyone expected that. I definitely didn’t expect that, but I was hopeful that I was going to move forwards. I got a good start, lost position on the first lap with those new tyres, but the more I race, the more I feel like I’m getting better. I think I’m understanding myself more. I know what I want from the car. I know what buttons to push. During a race I’m constantly tweaking my driving style. It’s like trying to find the right numbers to put together to be able to get you through the corners in a way that is faster than everyone else. That mathematics, that algorithm never seems to stop. It’s always a challenge from lap to lap and I think today I was really mastering it, at least from half way in the race.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) Lewis, many congratulations. You mentioned your family and I know you are very close to your dad and your family. Have you had a chance to speak to them and if you have what have you said to them and what did they say to you?

LH: I haven’t had a chance to speak to anybody, unfortunately. I literally just got my phone as I changed and there are a lot of message there that I haven’t opened yet. My dad… my family have all been supportive before the race. My mum message me before the race but I didn’t have a chance to open it because I was rushing to get in the car. I know I have so much support, particularly from my family even if we don’t talk. But I hope that they are feeling fulfilled. My parents sacrificed so much for me to be here and I never take that for granted. The things that we faced, the challenges that we faced and the dream that we had, and all the schools and people saying that we wouldn’t be where we are today, hopefully we’ve earned the respect, hopefully I’ve earned respect today. There is more to do. This is a world championship and it’s the pinnacle of my life so far, but there is a much bigger win that we all need to work together towards and that’s pushing for equality and that’s pushing for equal opportunities for all these kids that are out there so we can create a better future but that’s going to take us all doing it together.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Congratulations Lewis please. The manner of the way you sealed the title today was incredibly impressive, one of you best wins and certainly one of your best wins with Mercedes. At what point today did it feel like it was coming towards you and just how satisfying is it to have won the title with that kind of crushing performance?

LH: Sorry, you saying “won the title”, it just hasn’t sunk in yet exactly. Obviously I got a really good start and then I lost position. I avoided getting a penalty going around the bollard. I struggled behind everybody. I know everyone was struggling but I was struggling behind that group of cars that was ahead of me. Then, we saw people even like Max, who is great in the wet, spin and lose control and have to do extra stops. I was behind Seb and for a moment I was thinking I might get past him but then me and him were having this battle and it was so frustrating not to be able to get past him. But also I was thinking, “you know what, Seb has had the toughest year, I would say arguably perhaps in his whole career” and I just thought he was driving so well, but at the same time I was like, “he’s doing so good, but dammit, he’s in the way, the guys up ahead are getting away!” And then he started pulling away from me and I think at that point I could definitely see the win seeping away. I looked at my dash and I was on lap 30 or something like that and then I was like, “no, there’s a long, long way to go and anything can happen, so just keep your head down, keep going, keep pushing”. All of a sudden I found a few things that improved the handling of the car and I started getting around in much quicker laps and I started to close on Seb, and then he pitted. And I knew, for me, I was like: “There’s no way you guys are pulling me in. These tyres aren’t done and the track is in this progressive state and it’s not going to dry up fully by the end of the race.” So I knew all these things from all these experiences I’ve ever had so I was able to use history, to use past experience to deliever those laps I was doing afterwards. And as soon as I could see the Force Indias ahead I knew that it’s game time. You’ve just got to keep your head, keep your cool and don’t make mistakes.”

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) Congratulations Lewis on a great drive and a great achievement. You’ve made lots of powerful statements against racism this year but you becoming the most successful racing driver ever is possibly the most powerful of all. What does that mean to you – and what message to you think that sends out to the world?

LH: It’s obviously no secret that I’ve really walked this sport alone: the only black person here, or the only person of colour here and it’s a really interesting point. The fact is that as I’m bi-racial, whilst it’s the term of the black driver here, I’m bi-racial and I think this colourism that perhaps people should perhaps read about. I think that, hopefully, shows, when I was younger, I didn’t have anybody in the sport that looked like me and, so, you know, it was easy to think that that’s not possible to get there, because nobody of your colour has ever been there, you don’t see anybody on TV, any black people on TV that are in Formula 1, so… but I think hopefully this sends a message to the kids that are watching. Hopefully they’ve seen that performance today and hopefully they can see that it doesn’t matter where you come from, I think whatever your background, I think it’s so important to you to dream big. And if you are looking at places, industries that you don’t see someone of the same background as you, or the same ethnicity as you, or with the same religion, create your own path. Because that’s what we did. That’s what I’ve been able to do. And it’s been so tough. Tough doesn’t even describe how hard it’s been. I hope that sends that message. That’s the most important message for kids: to dream as big as possible and not give up, y’know?

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Congratulations Lewis. Couple of questions actually. First thing I’d like to do is just take you back to when you finished the race. You seemed to have an emotional moment. I wondered if you could explain what was going through your head at that time? Secondly, with regards to this season as a whole. It’s been very challenging for everyone…

LH: Don’t give me too many questions at once! I’m struggling to take the one in! Very rarely to do ever lose control of my emotions and I think those last few laps, I remember those last few laps and obviously we’re having a discussion whether we’re going to pit. I was just telling myself, ‘keep it together Lewis, you’ve got this’. I could feel it getting closer and also knowing that, if I finish where I’m finishing right now, that I’ve got this championship. So, all of these emotions were running through me, and I was trying to stop it because I was thinking about my whole career, y’know? From when I was five, when I drove in the go-kart, from when we’ve won our first British Championship, driving home with my Dad, singing ‘We Are the Champions’, and dreaming of being here – it is right there, minutes away and that was a lot to take in. When I came across the line, it really hit me and I just burst into tears, I think. That whole in-lap. And then I really just couldn’t get out of the car because I just couldn’t believe it. I just… for me, I’ve been very strong but I couldn’t have done it without the great man behind me, my Dad, who, on the days when I didn’t think I was good enough, or wasn’t going to do well enough, he stood me up and kept me going. So, I was thinking of him, I was thinking of my Mum, I was thinking of my step-mother Linda, my brother, who all stood by me through thick and thin. I didn’t want the visor to come up and for people to see tears flowing and all of that stuff – because I had always said that I would never let you see me cry. I remember watching other drivers in the past crying and I was like” ‘I am not going to do that’ – but it was too much.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, just wondered, you touched on staying with the team. Now’s the time, I guess, to start talking about those negotiations and getting that new deal done, I guess?

LH: Yeah. Definitely it’s something that we do need to get onto and y’know, I think, I just always think, through the year just that I’ve got a job to do, I’ve got a contract in place, I don’t feel like I should add pressure. It has to be organic and not something that’s forced. So, I thought let’s put it to… I bet on myself. Naturally there are days when you think ‘what happens if you start making mistakes? What happens if you get worse all of a sudden, you don’t put in these great performances? Does your value decrease? Does your bargaining power decrease? Does your reputation go off a cliff? I know there’s scenarios in life where you’re like ‘let’s sign up real quick’, so you guarantee your future, and for me, I’ve bet on myself. I do the work. I know myself better than anyone and I know what I can do, and I know how to do it. Better than ever. And so, yeah, I wanted to put it aside and wait until the job is done. So, probably over these next weeks – we’ve got three weeks in the Middle East – so, now it’s a bit more chilled but I still have three races ahead of me that I want to win. It’s not done but we will get it done, I’m sure.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Congratulations for a brilliant achievement. Back in the UK there’s a growing feeling that you should now be knighted for what you’re doing, both on and off the track. We’ve seen Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, others knighted in recent times. So I guess, what would it mean to you to receive such an accolade – and obviously you spoke about just getting started. Can we see Lewis Hamilton racing in Formula 1 in his forties?

LH: I don’t think I’ll be here in my forties but, y’know, still, I’m only 35. I feel young and fresh. Every year we talk about this and I naturally get the questions and I don’t really have anything different to say, compared to before. I think when I think about that honour, I think about people like my grandad who served in the war, I think about Sir Captain Tom who got knighted and waited a hundred years for that incredible honour. The people that are running hospitals, the nurses and doctors who are saving lives during the hardest time ever. I think about those unsung heroes and I don’t look at myself as an unsung hero. I’ve not saved anybody. It is an incredible honour that a small group of people have had bestowed upon them. All I can say is that standing today, and hearing the national anthem I’m very, very proud. I am a very proud Brit and that, as I said before, this really is like the most special moment to be able to represent… to be up there representing a nation. Having the flag over your head, over number one, that is such an incredible honour. That’s really all I have to say about it. It’s not something that I think about, it’s not something that I… I’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s more work to do here in this sport. As I said, we’ve got… I think this year we’ve had this awakening and I think people hopefully are starting to be held accountable and holding themselves accountable and realising that’s actually not a really bad thing. It just means we’ve got to work harder, we’ve got to not be so stubborn, open our minds up and educate ourselves a bit better so we can push for a more equal world. I’m not going to stop fighting for that. And then part-time maybe I’ll keep racing for a little while!

Q: (Christian Menath – Congratulations Lewis, incredible achievement. To follow up on what Scott asked earlier, the manner you achieved this today, with the win and I think Seb put it pretty nice, he said “it wasn’t your race to win today.” You’re the most successful driver in Formula One history but there are still a lot of critics out there and always say you’re just winning because you have the best car. Today you showed it’s not the case. How important is that for you?

LH: Yeah. I want more of these weekends. More tricky conditions like this. The more opportunities like this, the more I’m able to show what I’m able to do. And I think today hopefully you can see… I think I deserve my respect. I think I have that with my peers. I think they can see how hard… they will know how hard today is, particularly that it is not a car thing. However, I couldn’t have done this without that amazing group of people behind me – but there is another great driver who is alongside me, who has the same car who obviously didn’t finish where I finished. I do notice that there are these interesting comments from past drivers, particularly. I really, really promise you, and hope that I stand by my word, when I stop in ten, 20 years from now and look back, I want to be embracing and encouraging the next youngsters that are here, whether it’s Lando, whether its George, whoever it may be, whether it’s Max. I know how hard it is to do the job and I know how this world works. Of course you have to have a good team and of course you have to have a great car. There is no driver that’s ever won – really won – the Championship in the past without it. It goes back the same all the way down to karting. You’ve got to have the right equipment. I remember my first championship. I raced and the kid that won was on rocket engines, which Jenson Button’s Dad had tuned. Those engines were real rockets. Compared to the cheap, crappy engine that I had which was, y’know, fifth hand, there was no way I could keep up with these kids, and I remember that one weekend he was moving on to… Kimbolton in 1992, 1993, and he was moving on to the next class, he was selling on these engines. I remember my Dad had to re-mortage the house to get this £2000 engine – but what we did that day was me and this kid, who’d been winning everything, we put his other engine that I was going to buy, that we were looking to buy, in my car and I was ahead of him all the time on track. So, of course, you’ve got to have the equipment, of course you’ve got to have it and that’s something that will always be in this sport. But then it’s also what you do with it that really also counts – and hopefully you can see that today.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Congratulations Lewis on winning the Championship. I want to go back to something you said earlier about being in the race when you were on the Inters and you found things that helped improve the handling. I’m sure that might be a closely-guarded secret but can you just explain a little bit of what that meant. And also, you’ve referenced in the past learning from losing the 2007 title in the pitlane in similar conditions to today when the tyres were wearing down. How did you avoid that today and how did the lessons of the past help you as well?

LH: What I’m learning as I get older is to, most often, my gut feeling is right. And most often, like intuition, the first thought that I have is usually the right one, choice-wise, and so I’m learning not to question myself. So you saw today, back in 2007, I was a rookie. I was massively skilled but didn’t have the knowledge, didn’t have the experience to be able to lead the team, to tell them what was needed. If I knew what I knew now, I’d say ‘guys, I have to come in, I’m coming in.’ I didn’t know at the time I could tell my team that that was the case. I was still learning what I could and could not do. There was a lot of… among the success there was still doubt there every now and then. That’s not evident today in the Lewis that you see today. I think, as you saw, I was pretty certain I could get to the end. With, I think 18 laps to the end, I was thinking ‘I’m going to try and take this all the way’ but I started getting vibrations in my tyres, so I was constantly looking at my tyres and hoping that they… looking out for that bald tyre that I had in 2007 but I couldn’t see, again, in my mirrors, just like 2007. I couldn’t see the tread and whether or not it had gone through to that level. So that’s why I was asking the team, and so I was having to save the tyres through the high speed, trying to not kill them but keeping temperature up was really key. So that’s brake balance, that’s how you use them on the exit of the corners. It’s the lines that you have to navigate to take – there was a lot of wet patches still out there. And as soon as you touch that, you’re off. So, the key today was really just keeping my wits about me. As I said, learning as I went, and I was just chipping away again, getting faster and faster and more and more confident as I went on.  

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