AUSTIN – Interestingly, Lewis Hamilton made an impromptu appearance at the COTA Fan Fest in downtown Austin on Saturday night, asking fans to wish for a “2012 encore” on Sunday.
Less than 24 hours later, he got it.
The Mercedes driver qualified second yesterday – as he did then, except in a Mercedes-powered McLaren – and would require a move for the lead on the run down to Turn 12 in order to make it back to the front.
So as he did to Sebastian Vettel that year, Hamilton did to his teammate Nico Rosberg on Sunday after hounding him and reeling him in following the first round of pit stops.
Hamilton maximized his run on Pirelli’s soft tires in the opening stint, failing to lose too much time to Rosberg. Even though he had a microscopically slower first stop – 3.1 from his Mercedes crew compared to Rosberg’s 3.0 – he was able to begin reeling him in.
And it all built to the crescendo of that move, on Rosberg’s inside on the run down to Turn 12. Hamilton got the run, moved to the inside and completed the outbraking maneuver.
“It’s a very good circuit to be able to follow, but it’s not easy,” Hamilton explained. “It’s hard to stay close through the middle sector, but I wanted to be in the DRS zone. I felt confident – there was a bit of a headwind into 12 and I was just close enough to throw it up the inside. You have to decide how much of a risk you’re willing to take, but Nico didn’t full defend. I may have caught him unaware.”
That put him in position, and from there, he was able to bring it home en route to his fifth straight win – the first time in his career he’s been able to achieve that illustrious feat. It’s his tenth this season and 32nd of his career, the latter of which is a new record for British drivers and also puts him equal with Fernando Alonso all-time.
The win was a case of Hamilton overcoming the braking issues that plagued his qualifying session on Saturday. He spoke of the team’s improvement to get the issue sorted.
“We had some problems but corrected them today,” he said during the post-race press conference. “I pushed as hard as I could in the first stint. The second stint, I seemed to be even quicker. Once I got past, it was about controlling it.”
Hamilton spoke of what his third win in the U.S. meant, considering how much he’s been embracing this week in the States.
“I just went into the race with the belief I could win it,” he said. “From New York, I felt I could win it. There’s been tons of flags, caps, shirts. Great weather, fantastic circuit. I’m so grateful for the support in the U.S.
“I said need another race like 2012, and I was catching exactly at the same points as I did to Sebastian. There wasn’t a portion in the race where I didn’t think I could get him. It’s such a great feeling when you have a race like that.”
The win also puts him 24 points up heading to Brazil next week.