Lewis Hamilton has admitted that his heart rate took a leap as he skated off the road at Rivage in the closing laps of the Belgian Grand Prix, but still claims that the race was one of the 'most exciting' of his career.
Speaking to the official F1 website, the Briton reflected on a victory that took him back to the top of the world championship standings with six rounds to run, but conceded that his 'moment' on slicks at the rain-soaked hairpin had been a wake-up.
"This track gives us one of the most challenging grands prix on the calendar and I was so overwhelmed when I came out after turn one as the race leader," he revealed, "Despite the 2008 race [run in similar wet-dry conditions
], today was the most 'entertaining' race for me, as it surprises at almost every corner.
"My lowlight was getting into the gravel, and the highlight was to come out unharmed. That was the ticket to my race win. When I touched the wall with the edge of my wing, my heartbeat must have been around 220. It was going bang, bang, bang… That was scary - and I think all the fans here and back home were at the edge of their seats. Fortunately, I came out of the situation well [and] then took myself back a bit and 'carried' the car over the finish line."
Hamilton's error came as his McLaren team was telling him to stay out until the conditions were right for Bridgestone's intermediate tyres, aware that other drivers had already 'chewed' their wet weather rubber.
"It is so slippery out there on the prime tyres, so difficult to keep the car on the track and keep the temperature up, that I was thinking that it was easy for them to say 'stay out'," he smiled, "When you drive at that speed, you really don't know, at first, if it is only spitting or raining heavily, you just realise water is running down your visor. You really have to go for pure balance in such a moment. I came through all that perfectly and I have to say that it was one of the most exciting races of all time for me."
After producing one of the few improvements at the end of qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton was best-placed to take advantage of poleman Mark Webber's poor start, and was able to pull away from the field over the opening laps as those behind squabbled over the minor places.
"It felt incredible!" the Briton admitted, "When I realised that I can control the pace - and the car was feeling better and better - it was awesome! I was able to pace myself and, every time I saw that the guys behind me were closing the gap, I always had an answer to it. It became a bit more difficult when the conditions changed - and then I had my wide moment!
"It was the perfect way to bounce back [after a DNF in Hungary]. I had a fantastic holiday and then to come back and do it again - it just felt perfect! I felt so blessed today! I was a bit nervous after qualifying, as we had made some changes that, in technical terms, meant a step back, but hey, it worked!"