Lewis Hamilton says the closing laps of the US GP were a “defining moment” as he headed towards his third World Championship.
Hamilton was behind team mate Nico Rosberg at a safety car restart with 10 laps to go, and knew that if he could get past, he would win the title today. In the end Rosberg made the job easy by running wide and leaving the door open.
The race had started with some controversy as Lewis leaned on his team mate and pushed him wide at Turn One.
“The last 10 –15 laps were the tough ones,” he said. “What an extraordinary race. I just started out well, very, very close obviously with Nico at the beginning and that wasn’t intentional, we both broke very deep into it, and I understood he was on the outside and in the wet that’s where the grip is, so he was turning and I wasn’t turning so we touched.
“After that just fighting for position, trying to stay ahead. Emotions were just up and down through the race because at one point I was in the lead but I knew I didn’t have it in the car. I was struggling and sliding all over the place and then I fell to fourth and the track was drying and just the most… the trickiest conditions for us.
“And then, as I said, the last 10 laps really… I was behind the Safety Car and thinking, ‘OK, I’ve got 10 laps, the World Championship is right there – how am I going to get it?’. And then I was just head down, everything that I’ve got from all these years. Everything that I’ve built up, everything that I’ve learnt comes into this. This is the defining moment really.
“Of course I could have gone on to other races but for me, I’m kind of like ‘now!’ It’s so close that I could smell it.”
Lewis made it clear that his third title means a lot to him.
“For any driver I think it’s the pinnacle. There’s no further you can go. Your ultimate goal is to win in everything you compete in. It’s to perform at your best and hopefully better than everyone else, so when you do win a world championship it signifies at that particular time your greatness and the people around you. The whole unit. The teamwork. The greatness of that partnership as well.
“I remember when I got my first one. I was just grateful for the first one. I told Ron [Dennis] when I was 10 that I wanted to be world champion in his car and it’s kinda crazy to think that ten years after he signed me I was.”