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Lewis Hamilton’s title chances may be bruised after two consecutive retirements and a gearbox problem although the 2008 Champion insists that he is not out of the running this year. The McLarenn driver chatted on his personal website following Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, in which he finished fifth despite a gearbox issue.
After a weekend like Suzuka, what positives do you take away?
It’s funny, I’ve never believed in luck; I’ve always believed you make your own luck, but that belief has been stretched a bit over the last four Grands Prix.
I go racing with my heart and I race hard, but that approach hasn’t paid off too well for me recently.
But every experience is a learning experience and I’ll certainly learn from these experiences and put that knowledge to good use in the future.
That’s one positive. Another is just the simple fact that I got to the flag, scored some points and kept my World Championship challenge on track. We’ve seen how this year’s championship is very much a battle of consistency, so every single point is valuable.
Finally, I was pleased with the pace we showed during the race. Jenson (Button) set the second-fastest lap and, before my gearbox problem, I was closing down on Fernando (Alonso) and could even have made it onto the podium despite a five-place grid penalty.
Given that we weren’t racing all the updates we’d brought to Japan with us, I think that gives us a lot of encouragement for Korea and beyond.
You lost third gear just as you were closing down on a podium finish – how did you then adapt your driving style to cope without first, second and third gears?
It wasn’t easy at a track like Suzuka because it’s such a flowing circuit – you need all the traction you can to keep your momentum up but, fortunately, because it’s quite a fast track, you’re not in the lower gears for too much of the lap.
You need the traction from the low gears out of the hairpin and the chicane, but you’re also missing it a lot out of the second Degner, where you need a lower gear to get the car planted properly.
I was fortunate on Sunday because I’d already established quite a big lead over the sixth-placed car (Michael Schumacher), so I didn’t lose too much ground and could hold onto fifth.
The good news is that the rules permit us to change the gearbox for Korea without getting another grid penalty.
There are three races remaining – is the championship still a possibility?
It’s getting more difficult, I’m fully aware of that. But, in a situation like this, I always look back at the 2007 season and what happened in those final two or three races. I think Kimi (Räikkönen) was 17 points behind with two races remaining, but he still managed to win the World Championship.
I’ve learnt on more than one occasion that the World Championship isn’t won until the very last gasp, so I’ve definitely not given up.
I want to win again and I go to Korea believing we can do that and, who knows, if that happens and the other championship contenders fail to score, then I’m right back in it.
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