11 October 2015
F1 Russian Grand Prix: Hamilton living the dream as third title nears
Lewis Hamilton said he cherished the final few laps of the Russian Grand Prix as victory took him one step closer to claiming the 2015 F1 world championship title.
Lewis Hamilton admitted that edging closer to a third F1 world championship title was a dream come true after an incident-filled Russian Grand Prix allowed him to extend his advantage over his only remaining challengers.
Despite starting from second on the grid, behind Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton again benefited as technical problems hit the German inside the opening ten laps and, from that point on, he was hardly concerned as he claimed a 42nd career win and took his points lead to 66 with four races – and 100 points - remaining.
Only a radio call from the Mercedes pit wall warning him not to use his DRS system in the final few laps caused Hamilton some concern but, such was his advantage, he was able to take victory nearly six seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who now assumes the role of chief pursuer in the overall standings.
“I don't really know what was wrong with the car,” Hamilton admitted afterwards, “I don't think it was DRS, but it was something with the rear wing and that was the reason the pace started to decrease [in the closing stages].
“Reliability is something that we've focused on a huge amount over the last year-and-a-half but, for whatever reason, we are struggling or having a problem with it – and Nico's been incredibly unfortunate to have suffered the worst.”
Hamilton looked to have a fight on his hands after being out-paced in qualifying for the second straight race, and said that he was relishing the battle with his team-mate prior to Rosberg's early exit.
“I was excited because we were close together at the beginning and I was thinking 'okay, we have a race here' so it is a shame for the team to have lost one of the cars and not to have a race,” he said, “I had a very good start and the key was to try and get behind Nico but, as I pulled out of the slipstream, I wasn't going past him quick enough and, when we got into the braking zone, it wasn't worth taking any risks and Nico held his ground.
“After that, it looked like we were having a race and I thought 'this is great', but then it looked like he made a mistake into turn one and went a bit wide. After I overtook him, or maybe even before that, it looked like he started to have some problems.”
While Mercedes' hopes of clinching the constructors' title appeared to have gone west with Rosberg's retirement, and currently hinge on the stewards' decision whether to punish Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen for his part in Valtteri Bottas' DNF, Hamilton admitted that the final few laps were special as he pulled himself level with Vettel on 42 career wins.
“It was very unfortunate for the team, who have worked very hard to have both cars finish this weekend, and it was a good opportunity to win the constructors' championship but we'll keep pushing,” he acknowledged, “For those last five laps, I was really just taking it all in, looking at the car and thinking that, at some stage, I might not be in this position again, so I was just cherishing it and feeling very blessed. I was coming into those last couple of laps thinking what a dream this is for me - I love driving this car and love where we are at the moment...”
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