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'The Voice' speaks to Lewis Hamilton

MAN OF THE MOMENT: Lewis Hamilton (Photo credit: PA)

Q: Lewis, you’ll get to take the new F1 W09 EQ Power+ on the track. Last week you visited Brackley. How did it feel to be back?

Lewis Hamilton: It felt great to be back. It’s always such a great working environment in the factory. The first time back in the year is always exciting because there’s great anticipation of the car being built.

It’s very humbling to see everything coming together. People have worked so hard on this car, committed for such a long period of time. I’m just keen to get out there and take it to its limits. I’m one of only two people who get to drive it and there’s this proud feeling because I know how much work has gone into getting the car ready.

Q: The new car is more than a machine – it’s the most advanced Mercedes F1 car ever built, but it also represents more than a thousand years’ worth of working hours as well as the team’s hopes and dreams. Does that put extra pressure on you?

LH: To be honest, the pressure I put on myself has always been the most. But there’s added pressure. You’re nervous about damaging the car that all these people have worked so hard on – but I know that they don’t think about that.

They know that I am going to give it everything and that’s what they want to see. I know what potential I have in me and I just want to make sure I utilise that and bring the out the maximum potential of the great machine the team has built.

Q: 2018 will be your sixth season with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, your record with the team is impressive. How do you feel when you look back on the time with the team so far?

LH: It’s hard to believe that it’s already our sixth year together. It feels like it’s gone by so quick. I remember my first time coming to the factory in Brackley, doing my first seat fit and it’s just strange to think that now we’re here as far down the line.

It has just been a dream experience – working with the greatest team and extending my relationship with Mercedes who I signed with when I was 13. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster together.

Q: Looking into the future – where does the team need to develop?

LH: Mercedes already is the best team and it continues to grow into a stronger team. The foundation is very strong and now they’re putting the right building bricks in place. I think the team is going to continue to grow and I hope that I can be a part of that for as long as I can.

Q: Who do you think will be our main competitors this year?

LH: It’s difficult to say at the moment, but naturally you can imagine that it is going to be very close with Ferrari and Red Bull who were so competitive at the end of the year. But maybe another team will surprise as well.

Q: We see a few changes for the new season – less power unit components, the halo, new tyre compounds. What do you make of that?

LH: It’s getting harder and harder for the team in Brixworth and the people in Brackley, but they’re continuously rising to the challenge which is great to see. I think it will be tough for everyone this year with the regulation changes.

It puts more emphasis on me, making sure that I’m very careful with the engine. We just need to make sure that we maximise it as much as possible. Reliability will continue to be a key player in the sport as it has been in previous years.

But I know that I’ve got the best team working as hard as they can to make sure that we’re at the forefront of that.

Q: With the introduction of the halo the minimum weight of the car increased by 5 kilograms to 733 kilograms. What impact does that have from a driver’s perspective?

LH: The car is getting pretty heavy year on year and that does affect the car when you’re driving it. Adding weight just slows the car down, but it gets faster with development again.

I think at the moment seeing the halo on the car is quite alien to us, but I’m sure we will get used to it and it will become the norm before we know it.

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