Lewis. This has been an amazing year in Formula 1. How was it for you?
Phenomenal. To think I had nine consecutive podiums, honestly it was just mind-blowing for me but such a great experience. I had to just sit back, absorb it all and be a real sponge this year, because there was so much going on.
All the different appearances I had to do, meeting new people, flying to all these different countriesÖ Then I had to get in the car, learn new circuits and compete against more experienced drivers, so it was a pretty hectic season!You were outstanding around tracks youíd never even driven on. Whatís your secret?
Itís just a skill Iíve developed over the years. The engineers and I walk the circuit just to get an idea where the braking points are, where the bumps are and the turning points. But obviously this year I hadnít been to Melbourne, Malaysia, Montreal, Indianapolis, Japan, China or Brazil.
Sometimes, I did work on the simulator and sometimes Iíd been on a computer game with my brother beforehand. Plus Iíd watched all the Grand Prix previously, so I had a good idea and understanding of where the corners were.Youíre a busy man. Do you get enough time off?
Iím not complaining and I canít wait for the next season, to be honest. But I am looking forward to having a bit of a break.The decision to scrap traction control in 2008 is a huge shake-up for Formula 1. Is it going to affect you much?
Itís going to be interesting. Itíll be my first time driving a Formula 1 car without traction control in just a couple of weeks, but all the time Iíve been driving up until this season Ė including in my GP2 car Ė Iíve been driving without it, so Iíve got the technique.
Iím sure itís going to be harder for a lot of the drivers who have had it for some time to now switch back. Itís a different driving style with the accelerator. Iím quite excited about it. Iím glad itís gone!Will you have to bulk up physically and get the guns in shape for next year?
Itís not about bulking yourself up or having big muscles. Itís about having endurance. When youíre going through corners at 150mph, your body wants to go one way and the carís going the other way Ė youíre just trying to hang in there. The force is on your arms, on your shoulders, your core, your legs and most importantly, your neck.
My neck used to be size fourteen-and-a-half or 15. During the season that went up to 17! Itís shrunk again now, so obviously Iím going to have to start building that back up for the tests.So basically all you need to be an F1 driver is a big neck?
No! Malaysia was the hardest race this year Ė I canít remember the temperatures, but it was ridiculous. Youíre in your thermal long johns and thermal top and then youíre in a suit and the carís already roasting. The brakes are getting hot, the front down by your feet is getting warm because of all the hydraulics and fluid down there and youíre working your nuts off.
During the race, I was having to hold off one of the Ferraris and I ran out of water Ė we have 500 millilitres in the car and that ran out after the first pitstop. I was nearly dead at the end of the race Ė I lost four-and-a-half kilos! You have to be able to lose that and still be healthy.Do you know anything about the workings of an F1 car, or are you just a shit-hot driver?
You need to know everything Ė or at least as much as you can. I donít just turn up and drive. Pre-season, I had to learn about the car, mainly the technical side and how we can improve the set-up. My engineer does the real set-up of the car before we arrive at the track, but when I turn up, I almost dictate how the car should be set up.
I come in from a lap and as a driver, I need to be able to say I need softer front springs or more front wing, a lower rear ride height. Through the year Iíve been working closely with Mercedes-Benz and Mobil 1. I have to give the correct feedback of how the engineís performing and we work closely to improve.We hear youíre pretty handy at martial artsÖ
I started doing karate when I was six because I was being bullied at school. I was one of the smaller guys and in terms of confidence, I could stand up to the tallest guy in the world, but I was weaker than the others. I wanted to be able to defend myself, so I had karate lessons which taught me a lot about discipline.
I had to stop because I broke my hand whilst sparring Ė I broke my knuckle which nearly stopped me doing the World Championship in karting, which then nearly led to Robert Kubica beating me in a race! Youíre also good at football. Is there anything you canít do?
I was very active at school. I did all the sports: basketball, cricket, football, cross country running, athletics, javelin, discus, 100 metres. I played in the football teams at infant and junior school through to seniors. I was always a midfielder.
I was quite good; I used to play with Ashley Young, who now plays for Aston Villa. I wouldnít say I was better than him, but I was probably faster and knew the game and had more skill. I donít have time for it now!Clicky