1 July 2011
FOTA Fans Forum - Woking - Pt. 3
FOTA Fans Forum event June 2011 - segment three featuring Lewis Hamilton and Kamui Kobayashi.
Present: Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) and Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber F1 Team)
Which of the new rules – new tyres, DRS or KERS – has had the biggest impact on performance for the drivers?
I love the new tyres, I think Pirelli have some an amazing job. I wasn't really sure if they were going to be any good because Bridgestone had been in F1 for so long and had so much experience. But Pirelli have come in and straight away they've lived up to people's expectations, which is pretty impressive. KERS we've had before, so the DRS is probably the most unique part of the new rules for this year. It makes it easier to catch people up and then be in a position to overtake.
The DRS is a really good system. At the beginning of the season we were a little bit worried about whether or not it was going to be safe, but after a couple of races we started to understand it. It's unique and it's very good. Psychologically it's very important because we don't just use it to overtake. Sometimes we use it when we have a backmarker, for example, and I think it's really cool.
Has the DRS made overtaking too easy?
Before we had the DRS is was very tough to overtake. You could do it, but it depended on the different circuits as to whether or not you'd have the opportunity. What we're trying to achieve with it is to give the drivers a choice about whether or not to overtake. Of course there are some circumstances where you breeze past someone before you get to the braking zone. I passed Michael [Schumacher] last weekend and was able to move back onto the racing line, so it was far too easy. I watched the replay and Eddie Jordan was talking on the BBC about it being a special manoeuvre! It shows how much he knows! It was good to hear him say something good about me.
You two are the best overtakers on the grid. What allows you to overtake when others can't?
Last year it was very difficult to overtake because you really had to fight to get close to the car in front. You really had to use the strategy and the tyres and you were on the limit. This year, if you have a good car it‟s easy to overtake; it's less of a job for me to overtake.
It's too easy for Kamui! I think it comes down to whomever's willing to take the biggest risk. There's a fine line between taking the risk and getting past – as I've shown in the last couple of races. It comes down to the mentality you have. I was with David Coulthard and Martin Brundle the other day. We were doing a sport together I did the fastest lap and was on the limit because I take everything to the limit. While I came round flat-out, DC was having a lift and Martin Brundle, who was also there and who's a little bit older, went even slower. What I began to notice is that it might have something to do with age and, as I start to get a little bit older, I might begin to get afraid of going fast through the corners. When you're attacking someone into a corner, my attitude right now is I'm young, I have nothing to lose.
What does it feel like to actually pull off a fantastic overtaking manoeuvre?
I started in F1 with Toyota at the end of 2009. I did a couple of overtaking manoeuvres at the last race and everyone was surprised. They asked me how I did this overtaking and I replied that it was normal! When your engineer understands that you can overtake, he'll give you the more aggressive strategy, which is good for me.
It's exhilarating. It's probably the most exciting part of the race, when you're not too fast compared to the guy in front. You're just creeping up on him and looking to see where he's weaker so that you can attack next time around. There's a real science to it; I love it. Every person you catch you want to overtake immediately, but you learn how easy or difficult they are to overtake, so you have loads of things to weigh up. It's massively, massively rewarding when do eventually get past someone. I don't know if you've ever heard me, but I get really pumped up. I'm immediately on the radio and asking who I can attack next, I want to have that feeling again.
With all the technology that we have at our disposal, how can we find out who the best driver is?
That's not easy. The simple way of doing that is to have everyone in exactly the same car and to have them go out at pretty much the same time because the conditions are always changing. From the beginning of qualifying to the end of the qualifying the track evolves, and there have been laps compared to Jenson where I've had an amazing lap and for some reason I'll be 5kph slower than him down the straight. It might be that for that one straight I got a headwind. So it would be difficult to have exactly the same conditions for every driver, but putting us in the same car is the only way you'll truly see who's the fastest driver.
I have a couple of interesting ideas, although I'm sure no-one will agree! I want to split the cars between the drivers at every race.
I'm sure you do, but I don't want to drive your car!
One day I'd be driving a Hispania and the next I might be in a McLaren. It would be cool, no?
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