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Belgian GP: Post Race press conference

NEWS STORY
07/09/2008

Lewis, a sensational victory for you. Talk us through those closing laps as the rain began to fall.
Lewis Hamilton: It was an experience and a half. I could see Kimi ahead and after the second stop he was so far ahead and I was thinking how did he make such a gap but I did get stuck in traffic. I was just pushing and pushing and pushing trying to close that gap. I might have been catching him one tenth per lap but then he would pull out a little bit of time and then I was relying on traffic. I was hoping that he would catch the traffic at the right time. Sometimes he caught it on the straight and he got a tow and then I caught them in mid sector and lost time. It was just mix and match. I was just praying, I was saying please just rain, rain, rain. I wanted the rain to come because I knew how to deal with it. The heavens opened a little bit and I saw Kimi begin to back off a little bit, a lot earlier than he did normally into turn eight and that was really where I knew it was on, the fight was on. When I went into turn 12 I was going reasonably wide but then it looked like, I think it was Rosberg, had done a spin and he was coming back onto the track and he was coming back on exactly where I was going off, so I nearly crashed into the side of him. Kimi nearly did the same. I went over the grass, Kimi spun on the exit of that corner, so I got it back and from then on it was pretty straightforward from there. But it was incredibly tough as I had lost all the temperature in the tyres but it was great.

Talk us through that passing incident at the last chicane when you let Kimi past but then passed him again?
LH: Yeah, I mean to be honest he pushed me wide. I was a little bit ahead and I was on the outside of turn one. He could have been fair as I had no room. He pushed me to the point where I would either have been on the kerb and crashed into him or have to go on the escape route, so I went on the escape route. I understood I had to let him past, so I did. I got in his tow and he was ducking and diving left and right and I did the same and managed to get back to the inside of him. But then he hit me at the apex of the corner but I think I was pretty much gone from there which was good.

You led the race from the start but you half spun at the start of the second lap.
LH: I got a good start. I got away and I was feeling comfortable. The difficulty was that bits of the track were still wet, at the last corner and turn one, so I was having to make sure I got the braking right. It was still a bit unknown and I went into turn one and I think on the last downshift it just locked the rears. It was a pretty pathetic spin but there was nothing I could do about it. Luckily they weren't so close to each other, so I just pulled the clutch, boom, and went as quick as possible. I did get ahead but Kimi slipstreamed me on the straight.

Kimi opened up a gap of around five seconds but on the prime tyre you pulled the gap back at the beginning of the third stint.
LH: Yeah, that spin really did put us on the back foot. It was a relatively big mistake from me. If it had stayed dry, we probably could have won if I had stayed ahead. It could have been quite critical. I think he pulled quite a big gap and I got held in traffic, I think it was behind Kubica and my team-mate, and there was nothing I could do about it. When I came out for the last stint, I just pushed and pushed and pushed. It wasn't over until it's over. I could see the clouds coming, so I just had to make sure. I think three or four laps to the end I said I can't catch this guy, so do I save the engine or do I keep pushing. But then I thought what happens if he makes a mistake or goes off or something like that, so it is never over until the fat lady sings and you see the chequered flag.

Felipe, you must be pleased to finish second. What was it like in those last few laps for you?
Felipe Massa: Well, to be honest, I was slower than I was supposed to be. I saw many people going off, especially Kimi, and then Lewis was a little bit in front, so I said I don't want to risk the right points. I was quite comfortable going very slow through the corners especially. It was really, really damp. Sometimes you think you would go off just like that. I made a mistake on the start as I thought Eau Rouge was wetter than it was, so I slowed down too much and then Kimi passed me. It was just a mistake. I was just comfortable in the third place during the whole race. It was difficult to catch those guys. We were all three doing very similar lap times. Sometimes I was losing a bit and then sometimes I was catching the pace. Then suddenly the second place came to me, so I am very pleased. The championship is still open and we are going to fight race by race to close the gap and maybe pass those guys.

When Kimi passed you it did look very close from what we could see.
FM: Yeah, Kimi was so quick he was going to pass me easily for sure but then he started to close the line and we almost touched wheel to wheel. I found that a little bit strange as he was going to pass me as he was already much quicker. But anyway he passed me but then I got the second place which was pretty lucky given the circumstances. But these things you cannot say are lucky. I was just looking to finish the race and that was it, we finished second.

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