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Transcript of the Thursday Press Conference organised by the FIA for the 2017 United States Grand Prix

PRESS CONFERENCE

Lewis, five-time US Grand Prix winner, three-time F1 world champion, US Grand Prix always a big one for your, personally and for the team, no doubt many commitments in the run-up to the event, but I just wondered how much you enjoyed your hours spent at NASA yesterday?

Lewis HAMILTON : Good morning everyone, super happy to be here of course and had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today. I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly. So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.

You stand on the threshold of your fourth Driver’s world championship this weekend, but does a part of you regret that the fight has sort of gone out of it now with all the misfortunes that Vettel and Ferrari suffered on the Asian leg in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan?

LH: No I don’t feel any type of way about it.

But obviously you’ve got such a massive margin now. There was such a tension throughout the season up to September but there’s much less tension now from your point of view, approaching the races?

LH: Nothing has changed for me, man. Everything is exactly the same as it was going into the last race, going into the second half of the season; it’s exactly the same mentally for me. Maybe it’s changed from your perspective, but for me it hasn’t.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Frédéric Ferret – L’Équipe) Lewis, do you have any explanation of your strengths in qualifying, even when your car is not as good as you would like?

LH: I think it’s just about know the car and knowing where you can push at those areas. Of course there are weaknesses but still you can find a way to exploit those weaknesses and just about get by. It’s been a fun car to drive because it’s not been perfect. So it’s then relied on a lot of your ability to balance it in uncomfortable scenarios or situations, which is something that I’ve always loved doing. It’s how I started in life, with not such a great go-kart when I was young, so that’s about it really.

Q: (Joey Barnes – Motorsports Tribune) Lewis, the fun exchange with Takuma Sato on the podium got a lot of buzz here in the States. Talk about your interest, potentially, in the Indy 500 after getting a chance to have that exchange with him?

LH: Honestly, it hasn’t inspired me to do the Indy 500. I’ve always respected it and appreciated it and I got to watch part of it when Fernando did it, which was super exciting. I love the idea of drivers being able to do more than one series. Just the other day I happened to get to drive a Formula One car on an oval, which was interesting. I have a huge amount of respect for those drivers; it’s quite scary when you approach those banks at the speed that they do. But I personally don’t have any particular desire to… maybe one day I’ll day I’ll have some fun and go out. Obviously I get lots of opportunities to do those things but I have no plans to go there and do anything serious.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Lewis, you’ve talked about being on another level since the summer break. I was just wondering, what’s changed for you within the team, and maybe for you personally, over that break and into these races that’s allowed you to operate on that higher level of consistency?

LH: I think it’s really just been that confidence of understanding the car a lot better this year, particularly in the second half of the season; knowing it’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, I would say that we are constantly evolving the process in which we work together, myself and my engineers. So we’d often hit the ground running with a balance I’m more comfortable with, which then naturally helps you easily step forward throughout the weekend in the right direction. And otherwise, just on my driving side, I don’t know, I think there are a lot of positive things happening in my life. There are a lot of interesting things forecast over these next 18 months, so I guess that’s an exciting and uplifting thing. So I’m arriving at these races, generally, with an abundance of positivity; it helps keeps your mind in the right place. Obviously, Toto and the team, Mercedes, have been incredibly supportive of all the different things that I’m into and the things I do and the way I move, which enable me to be in that position, and which are much appreciated.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Lewis, there are reports in some of the media that you might be considering taking a knee on Sunday during the US anthem. Can you clarify that? What is your position?

LH: I don’t really have a position and I don’t have any plans.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, just following on from the question about the protest take the knee, I’m just wondering if anything had changed, you’d spoken to anyone, or anyone had spoken to you about not doing it, because you said you have no plans to do it on Sunday?

LH: Of course there has been a lot of mention of it – not of the kneeling, but just of the whole situation here in America, so I get to speak to a lot of… I know black and white people that live here in America, so I get quite a view of what’s happening here in the States and opinions from Americans here about the movement, which I think is pretty huge, and which you’ve seen that I’ve posted about it, because I respect it highly, and I found that the movement that [Colin] Kaepernick started is awesome and I’m very much in support of it. But I’m here to win and that’s the top of my priorities at the moment and I’m not really focused on anything else at the moment.

Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Lewis, Ferrari seems to have fallen into a technical crisis in the last few races. Do you expect them to react here? Sebastian could be a strong fighter at the end of the season as well?

LH: I think he’s been a strong fighter all year and just because he’s obviously had a few issues technically, but I think still the car is as good as it’s always been. For sure they’ll have some sort of upgrade coming into this weekend. They’ve definitely had a couple of hiccups but I anticipate they’ll be very strong this weekend and for the last four races – so that’s why nothing changes for me. I’ve still got to continue to keep the pressure on and there’s no reason to back out, just got to keep pushing forwards.

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Lewis, you’ve been a sheriff here the last four years. How would it feel to take this win, this Championship, a fourth World Championship here in the United States again, for the second time, in front of many children who look up to you or are inspired by you, by your story and would love to see you win here?

LH: Honestly I think the talk of the Champion win this weekend I think is silly really. I mean, Sebastian is going to be… you can’t expect them to have a difficult weekend again. They’re going to be quick, they have an opportunity to win. The Championship, as long as it’s done in the next four races, that’s my focus. I honestly couldn’t care less if it’s here on the last race, as long as it’s done. I think winning here is the most important thing for me, particularly in the midst of all that’s going on in the country. I think that is a priority for me. You know what I’m talking about.

Q: (Oliver Brown – The Daily Telegraph) Lewis, you spoke quite tantalisingly just then about exciting things happening in your life over these 18 months. I just wondered if you could flesh that out at all, whether there was anything in particularly helping to lift your spirits for race weekends at the moment?

LH: I can’t tell you what it is, all top secret stuff but just positive things. When you’re a racing driver often you’re put in a box and there’s talk of you not doing much but being a racing driver and there’s a lot more to me than being a racing driver and I have a lot of great things that are happening. So, it’s just, after a lot of work, a lot of trial and error, a lot of pushback over the years, to see positive things starting to happen, things starting to move in the direction I was hoping it would eventually move – which you’ll see come to fruition in the next 12 to 18 months. That’s allowing me to take the pressure off and enjoy what I’m doing here, more than ever before.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) To Lewis, two things to clarify. There was a bit of a smile then, you said winning is the most important thing and you know what I mean. I’m not entirely sure I understood the end of your answer to that question. If you could just explain what you mean. And, forgive me if I’m reading too much into this but you said winning is the most important thing, and when we spoke in Malaysia you said about taking a knee, it wasn’t your anthem, there was plenty to consider. So would you therefore consider maybe staging a protest during your own anthem if you do win?

LH: Like I said, I wasn’t even looking far away into it. I’ve not given it that much thought. And when I said ‘you know what I mean’, it wasn’t to everyone, it was to the gentleman at the front here. Yeah. As I said, I’m here to win. That’s my focus. I don’t really plan on allowing all the BS that’s surrounding the topic pull me down in my strive to winning this world title. I’ve worked hard to be where I am today and whilst I do have opinions and feelings towards the whole situation, as I’ve said, at the moment, no plans on doing anything.

Q: (Mariana Jiménez – Récord) Lewis, you’ve said that you don’t have the title in your head right now but wouldn’t it be nice to wait until Mexico and get your first title there in front of the crowd?

LH: I’m looking forward to going to Mexico, as I always do every year, I have a lot of support out there, I have a lot of love for Mexicans and… yeah… it’s just an awesome event to anyway, so to go there again, particularly after the last couple of years. I think every year it seems to grow in its attendance. I guess the organisers learn so much about how the event goes and improve it for the following year. Winning the World Championship is obviously the goal and of course I think about it every day. I think my drive naturally is to winning that World Championship so every bit of my energy goes towards that mission. Honestly, wherever it happens, I don’t mind if it happens in Mexico, I don’t mind if it happens here, I don’t mind if it happens in Abu Dhabi, as long as it happens. But definitely Mexicans know how to celebrate so, if it does happen there, hopefully I’ll get one of the sombreros and be in a party.

Q: (Simon Lazenby – Sky Sports) Lewis, if you’re to win this championship, would you say Ferrari have blown it. They’ve handed it to you on a plate.

LH: If I was to win this Championship I think I would say that I’ve earned it.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Another question for Lewis. You’re going to be the only British driver on the grid this weekend, which is the first time in your career. I was just wondering what you thought about that, the state of play in motor racing in Britain and whether you’re quite surprised you’re the only guy racing from Britain this weekend?

LH: I don’t know how it is for the other drivers here but when you arrive you don’t think I’m here surrounded by members of… from where I’m from. So it makes no difference to me. I still work to raise the flag, and you do it as an individual, not as a team with other racing drivers, so yeah, that’s how it is.

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