Lewis Hamilton has called his third Formula 1 World Championship a 'wonderful and humbling' moment in his life after becoming the first British driver to successfully defend his F1 title in a frantic United States Grand Prix.
Knowing he had to outscore Sebastian Vettel by nine points and Nico Rosberg by two points it looked like he would have to wait until Mexico to seal the title, until Rosberg made a mistake while leading at turn 16 with eight laps remaining, handing both the race victory and the championship to his team-mate.
The 30-year-old was emotionally overwhelmed and brought to tears by the achievement and says he will relish in the moment while paying tribute to those who helped him on his journey to F1 glory.
“It is a wonderful moment. It is difficult for me to find the words,” Hamilton said. “I remember my first British championship when my Dad and I drove home singing we are the champions. At the time it was of Great Britain and now it is crazy to think that I'm three-time Formula 1 world champion. I owe it all to my dad and to my family who supported me all these years and scarified so much for me to be here.
“It has been a very humbling experience, especially to equal Ayrton Senna who meant so much to me and still does today. I feel very blessed.”
Reflecting on a rollercoaster of a race, Hamilton says he felt he'd lost the opportunity to clinch the championship at the Circuit of the Americas as the momentum swung between him and Rosberg, but the race and title was eventually decided by the German's error.
“Today there was so many times I thought I had lost the race,” he explained. “I had fallen back, Nico pitted in the safety car period and he was really quick at one stage. I never for one second believed I could have done it and then we pushed and pushed. Nico drove a fantastic race and really has done so since I joined this team so I have huge respect for him as my team-mate.”
Hamilton also says he hopes to use his third world title to inspire a new generation of young drivers, much like Senna did to a young Hamilton, having spent time with local children in the build up to the US Grand Prix at the start of the week.
“All the positive energy I get from my fans who travel around the world to see me, I get messages and really do realise while I enjoy racing Formula 1 cars this is a platform for me to inspire young people. I hope if there is any inspiring from today that it is to never give up on your dreams and your hopes and desires. Just keep working on it.”