Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton took a busman's holiday last weekend, as he stepped back in time and returned to his roots in the DTM/F3 Euroseries paddock at Brands Hatch.

There the McLaren-Mercedes star thrilled fans with a series of demonstration laps aboard his MP4-23, and spent a few minutes chatting to Crash.net Radio as he both reminisced about times gone by and looked forward to what lies ahead - what seems sure to be every bit as nail-biting a conclusion to the 2008 F1 campaign as was the case this time twelve months ago...

Q:
Lewis, you've been driving your McLaren-Mercedes F1 car around Brands Hatch - it looked like fun..?

Lewis Hamilton:
It was fun; it was good to be there. I hadn't driven the track for quite some time, and I remember coming through the ranks driving at Brands. I could never have imagined being there now driving a Formula 1 car around it and having all these people wearing my caps, wearing my shirts and really just giving me support. I feel very blessed to have been there, and it was good fun.

Q:
Do you think you would have liked to have raced in F1 around Brands Hatch when the sport competed there 20 or so years ago?

LH:
Yeah; I mean, I love the circuit. It's always been one of my favourites, especially the long circuit. The GP circuit would have been good fun.

Q:
Was it good to return to the paddock again and see some familiar old faces? Obviously you raced in the F3 Euroseries a few years ago...

LH:
Yeah, it was just good to be there. Normally I don't get the opportunity to go and watch another race, but I obviously grew up through Formula 3 and I was always with the DTM, so I got to watch it very closely, but watching from afar is a little bit different. It was really good to watch it live and I saw my old Formula 3 teams too, so it was a really eventful day. I was just so surprised to see how many people were there.

Q:
Turning your attentions to the F1 season, it's looking like being an extremely close battle between yourselves at McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari for the final phase of the campaign..?

LH:
Yeah; it is very close at the moment, as you can tell. Both last year and this year have been very close. I think in the last couple of races on the softer tyres Ferrari have had a little bit more pace than us, but as we go to the next few circuits and we have the harder tyres again, I think we will be a lot closer to them - if not perhaps just a little bit better. I think overall as a general package we have a better package than them, so I feel we're going to be able to challenge them.

Q:
Some of the circuits in F1 are traditionally seen as more McLaren circuits, whereas some are more Ferrari circuits. How do you see the remaining tracks on the calendar this year panning out between the two teams?

LH:
I don't particularly think it's track-dependent and that Ferrari are quick here, Ferrari are quick there or whatever. I think some drivers are quick on some tracks and some drivers are quick on other tracks. The plan is obviously always to be quickest at every circuit, but the tyres and engine and so forth play a major part too in all those different weekends.

In the next few, as I said, we will be on the harder compound tyres on which Ferrari do struggle. They were very quick at Spa last year, but I think it will be different this year. We were very quick at Monza last year - though I'm sure they'll be very quick there as well - in China we were ballistic and in Fuji we were great too. We're going to be strong in the last six races, no doubt.

Q:
Are there any of them you're particularly looking forward to?

LH:
I'm looking forward to every single one of the last races we have. Spa is great, Monza's great, as is flying away internationally to Fuji - I love going to Fuji with the Japanese food - just all the races, and then you get to the last race which is obviously probably the most exciting, and I'm really looking forward to that.

by Russell Atkins at Brands Hatch

TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE