18/04/2024 08:50 PM

From Siti Radziah Hamzah

SHANGHAI, April 18 (Bernama) -- British Formula One (F1) driver, Lewis Hamilton sees the potentially for a better position in the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix this weekend, as the world championship returns to China after a five-year hiatus.

Speaking to Bernama in an exclusive interview, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver revealed that, his optimism was based on previous good records at the Shanghai track, being the driver with the most wins after having secured six victories in the Chinese GP.

"This is the track that I have always done really well. I love driving the track, the track suits an aggressive driving style and I am hoping that it will be the same with this generation of car.

“I have a good track record here and I really hope that it is consistent this weekend. The season beginning is not good enough. I am hoping this weekend to get up higher,"  he said when met after a meet and greet session with a group of primary and secondary school students ahead of the Chinese GP. 

Hamilton was referring to a slow start in 2024, finishing seventh in the season opening Bahrain race, and ninth placing at both the Saudi Arabian and Japanese GPs, while forced to retire in the 19th lap at the Australian GP.

The F1 returns to China on Friday after a five-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s subsequent heavy restrictions, which didn’t begin lifting until December 2022, while the 2023 race was also called-off due “the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation.”

The record seven-time world champion (tied with Michael Schumacher), who is currently ninth in the drivers’ standing with 10 points compared to leader Max Verstappen (77 points), said two-week gap since the Japanese GP at the Suzuka Circuit on April 7, helped the team to enhance preparations for this weekend’s race.

“We had some difficult races and when you have a difficult race, then you have a two week gap in between, it feels like a lifetime because all you want to do is get back in and try again and give your best the next time. 

“But it also gives us time to analyse the good and the bad and what we could have done better. I think whether it is dry or wet this weekend, we are better prepared...Part of me is hoping that it stays wet," he added. 

The session held in conjunction with the return of the F1 to Shanghai and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the F1 Chinese GP, this year’s competition introduced a special format that encouraged team collaboration amongst the students as well as a chance for them to engage in an in-depth dialogue on their transformation ideas with Hamilton.

Themed “Driving Towards a Green Future, Powering the Voices of Youth”, the session showcased the work of three winning teams from this year’s edition of the competition centred on sustainable ideas and practices for the future, in line with one of Petronas' social impact pillars – Planting Tomorrow – which focuses on educating young minds on the importance of biodiversity conservation and sustainable living. 

Hamilton, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently for the same programme promoting the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education recently, has described both experiences as an eye-opener.

"In each different experience in each live location I have been with Petronas, I have always learned more along the way. Not only what needs to be done, how much more work needs to be done but things for example have been incorporated into my life.

"I love that they are working with kids. I went to visit Universiti Teknologi Petronas to see some of the projects they have there in terms of biofuels that they have been working on today. The students there have been working incredibly hard," he said. 

Hamilton stressed that society needs to do more to encourage the young generation to be innovative.

On sustainability practice in the F1, especially with the use of sustainable fuels in the sport's race, he noted the move was a huge step in the right direction.

"But it is never going to be enough. We have to continue to push the technology and see where it goes next to the point where we are not going to use fossil fuel I hope, one day. I know Petronas is heavily involved in technology as well for the future," said Hamilton. 




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