McLaren Q&A with drivers

As Winter Testing come to a close, Lewis and Heikki chat to LEWIS Q&A Q: You are coming to the end of the winter testing programme -- how has it gone so far? LH: Winter testing has gone really smoothly. We have had steady ...

As Winter Testing come to a close, Lewis and Heikki chat to


Q: You are coming to the end of the winter testing programme -- how has it gone so far?

LH: Winter testing has gone really smoothly. We have had steady reliability and the car is feeling good. We have had some great testing days, easily covering the mileage and getting confidence in the car.

Q: Today was your last session with the car before Australia, how was the week?

LH: We had another productive day on track in Barcelona. It has been a good week, in addition to the test development programme we have been working with the race team on getting back up to speed with activities such as pit stops. As just said the car is feeling good, but as always we still have work to do. A Formula 1 car is under continuous evolution, and when you look back at how far we have come since the MP4-23 first hit the track in January, it is encouraging. The work doesn't stop for anyone just because testing has concluded.

Q: Have you fully adapted to driving without traction control?

LH: Yes, falling back into my old style of driving has been pretty easily. I drove without traction control for many years, so it is what I am used to - there is nothing new.

Q: What areas of the car are you concentrating on in testing at the moment?

LH: Currently, we are focusing on looking after the tyres which means managing them as best we can for long race distances. On top of that we are improving our aero performance.

Q: Do you have a favourite test track, perhaps a circuit that enables you to thoroughly test each part of the car?

LH: Different tracks do different things -- you have slow speed corner tracks and high speed corner tracks. High speed corner circuits, like Barcelona, enables you to test the down force and really tell the difference between wings and different components. And then at Jerez, you can test the grip and the balances in the low speed corners.

Q: How is the MP4-23 different to the MP4-22?

LH: I can't really describe how it is different -- it is just better. It has got more down force, more grip, more power. We have got a good car but we still have some work to do.

Q: How is your winter fitness programme going and what areas are you concentrating on?

LH: My fitness programme has been even better this year. Fitness wise we are focusing on endurance and cardio - strength in arms and shoulders as this is where you probably struggle the most. I am also making sure the neck is strong enough.

Q: Do you enjoy training everyday; how do you find ways to keep it interesting?

LH: I am lucky in that I have an interesting trainer. Training on your own is often quite boring, but when you have someone as enthusiastic as my trainer, someone who you can just talk and make jokes with, it makes it more interesting.

Q: Visitors to would love to know how you spend a typical day in this pre-season time?

LH: I don't really have a typical day -- I have busy marketing days, busy testing days and I have training days. A typical training day consists of getting up early and going for a run and then coming back for good breakfast, I have to be careful of what I eat, so this is very important. I then usually check my emails and then go to the gym, or we might do a sport or go swimming. I have lunch then we may go for a long bike ride and then I come back and go to the gym for an hour or two. By then your day is over and you are exhausted.

Q: You spent last week in Russia, can you tell us what you were up to during this week?

LH: Last week I was in Russia for a Mobil 1 event, but on the way we stopped off to attend the Laureus awards, which was a very special experience. I was presented with the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award -- I was honoured. I then had a day to rest before we headed to Moscow to attend the Mobil 1 event, which was a really great day.


Q: You have come to the end of winter testing, what have been the highlights for you?

HK: There hasn't been a particular highlight as it has been an overall good winter. We have improved the car, I have improved myself and I have gotten to know the team better. Everything has just very positive; there haven't been any negative moments. Of course some days are more difficult than others but we are making progress all the time. So overall a very good winter and we have the pace to have a strong year.

Q: What areas of the car have you concentrated on this last week?

HK: The aerodynamic improvements are probably the biggest thing that we are concentrating on. We have also improved the engine, not so much the power, as that is fixed, but the drivability and trying to control the car better. Mechanically we have improved the car, and we have new parts coming all the time. With me, we are working on improving my driving all the time by going through the data and the engineers are giving me tips to help me go quicker.

Q: Have you fully adapted to driving without traction control?

HK: Probably not fully as there is always room for improvement and I must improve all the time, but I think I have found a consistent level now.

Q: Do you have a favourite test track?

HK: Barcelona is really nice. There are some high speed corners, some challenging parts of the track, a variety of chicanes, some hard breaking areas, and I think we can learn a lot here. I would say I enjoy this place the most, but of course when you come here all the time, sometimes you want to have a change.

Q: How is your winter fitness programme going?

HK: It is going very well. I have changed things slightly from what I had been doing before and been improving my physical side. This is something that has to be worked on each year to make sure that you are even better prepared than the previous year. I am working with my new trainer, and it is going really well. I believe I am better prepared than last year.

Q: What areas are you concentrating on?

HK: Maybe more on the power side, working on speeding up the muscles and making them more flexible. We are doing less cardio work. In the past this has always been strong for me and I have enjoyed it more, so we have changed the balance more to the fitness side and to generally improve all round. Also we have started to take nutrition into account and I have a plan for what I can eat and drink.

Q: Visitors to would love to know how you spend a typical day in this pre-season time?

HK: As Lewis says -- there is no such thing as a typical day. But a typical testing day starts very early as normally the first meeting of the day is at a 7:45, as a result I am up around 6.50. After a good breakfast I will go running with my trainer at 9.00, we tend to have a planned programme for around four hours; then we have a lunch break before starting a second testing programme in the afternoon. Half an hour after testing is finished we have the post test meeting and debrief. I usually have dinner at the circuit and go back to the hotel just after 19.00. Sometimes I do some stretching work with my trainer, particularly if it has been a difficult day. At home I try to keep the same rhythm and so I wake up early still and try to have breakfast at the same time as I do at the test. I always do some training, I try to do two separate sessions a day but sometimes I can only fit in one session. When that is the case I always do that it the afternoon, to simulate the time my body would be active during the race. In addition to this I just do quite normal stuff, play computer games, surf the internet, watch movies, and go out.

Q: Finally, today is the last day of testing before the start of the new season, what will you be doing between now and the race in Australia?

HK: We will focus some more on training and I will also spend time at the McLaren Technology Centre with my engineers and undertaking some simulation work. I will also fit in a visit to the Mercedes-BenzHighPerformanceEngines facility in Brixworth before departing for Australia next week, where I will spend some time acclimatising to the time difference, do some training and recharge my batteries for the first race in Melbourne.

-credit: mclaren

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes , McLaren