After taking another step closer to achieving his 'dream' of clinching the Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship crown with his flawless victory in the Chinese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren-Mercedes team could barely contain their joy.
The British star – who entered the weekend both under-fire from his rivals for his 'aggressive' on-track manner, and under a cloud and under pressure following his calamitous first corner error at Fuji seven days earlier – responded in sublime fashion, erasing the painful memories he had from the Shanghai International Circuit this time last year to sweep the board with pole position, fastest lap and the race win.
Remarkably, the 23-year-old's fifth triumph of the 2008 campaign was his first since the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim almost four months ago, and it could not have come at a more pivotal time, allowing him to open up a seven-point advantage over Ferrari rival Felipe Massa in the title chase with only ten points now left to play for.
Whilst the Brazilian struggled for pace in China – gaining second place only when it was gifted to him by faster team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – Hamilton was imperious, never under any great threat and able to seemingly effortlessly turn up the wick when it proved necessary, as he went on to take the chequered flag almost 15 seconds to the good at the end of 56 laps.
“Everything just went right this weekend,” the Stevenage-born ace enthused afterwards. “Our car has been simply phenomenal, I made one of my best-ever starts and had perfect balance during the race.
“I owe so much of that to the guys in the team – both at the track and back home; they did an amazing job, so a big thanks to them. I've got a seven-point lead in the world championship, but that doesn't allow me to take anything for granted. It might be another step towards my dream, but we've still got to stay calm and keep our heads. I just hope we can pull through.”
Whilst Hamilton edged nearer to his own personal goal, McLaren conversely fell to eleven points adrift of Ferrari in the constructors' scrap, meaning – barring a disaster for Maranello – the Woking-based outfit's main objective heading to Interlagos is now surely set on securing drivers' glory.
“No-one will be surprised to hear me describe today's McLaren-Mercedes team performance as a tremendous one,” asserted team principal Ron Dennis, “because that's exactly what it was. In difficult circumstances we never allowed our focus to waver, and we paced ourselves carefully throughout.
“Lewis did a truly fabulous job, as did our entire team. Our race strategy was extremely solid too, but the key message from China that we take forward to Brazil is that we qualified extremely well despite the fact that our cars were fuelled longer than those of our principal opposition, which clearly demonstrates the inherent pace of our car.”
“Great,” concurred Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug. “A more convincing win is hardly possible. What an excellent victory for Lewis and the team, and what a well-deserved one. Pole, win and fastest lap – Lewis demonstrated his skills and was clearly the man of the race and the whole weekend.
“He made a perfect start and controlled the field, never putting a foot wrong, and the team executed a perfect strategy. We are now looking forward to an exciting finale in Brazil, and everybody in the team is working hard to score enough points to win the world championship.”