27 September 2015
F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Hamilton brings ‘A game’ to equal Senna
Lewis Hamilton praises Mercedes team for 'fightback' after cruising to victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton claimed the 41st win of his F1 career, equalling the record of his childhood hero Ayrton Senna as he cruised to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Briton produced the perfect riposte to Mercedes' disappointing showing in Singapore a week ago, fighting his way past team-mate – and pole-sitter – Nico Rosberg at turn two before romping into the distance, eventually coming home nearly 19secs clear of the German.
The win takes Hamilton 48 points clear of Rosberg in the championship standings, going some way to redressing the loss incurred by his DNF in Marina Bay. Moreover, Mercedes re-established its superiority over Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen back in third and fourth.
“It definitely was important for us to strike back [after Singapore],” Hamilton admitted, “The Ferraris were incredibly quick at the last race and I guess we didn't bring our 'A game', so we really had to take a step back in the last few days and make sure we brought it here.
“The team did a fantastic job this weekend and it's great to be back up here as a team with a 1-2. I had a great start – thanks again to the team who have been working so hard to give us good starts for this race. As I said I couldn't have done it without this team – it's just remarkable what they've done. The car was beautiful to drive today - the crew did a good job to sort the car in the short amount of time we had and it was better today even than in qualifying. It was like sailing, going through the corners here, flowing...”
The first couple of corners could have been Mercedes' undoing, as the front row pair came perilously close to touching as Hamilton muscled his way into the lead, although the Briton didn't see too much wrong with the move.
“I didn't feel it was particularly that close – the inside line is the inside line so it was my corner,” he pointed out, “It was close, but I was understeering and running out of grip. I imagine Nico was running out of road, but that's what happens when you're on the outside...”
Equalling Senna's tally was also significant for Hamilton, particularly achieving it at Suzuka.
“I am so happy right now,” he grinned, “For me to come here, to a race where I used to love watching Ayrton drive, and to match his wins is ... I can't really describe it – I can't really believe it at the moment.
“It was an amazing race – this is a circuit where I can honestly say I've struggled for all the years I've come here, but one that I've loved driving. You always want to come here and dominate the track. Knowing it would be the race where I would equal Ayrton who had an interesting history here... it's quite an emotional day.”
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