Hamilton hails third World Championship as the most special

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AUSTIN, Texas – Lewis Hamilton is starting his World Championship-winning celebration tour in the immediate aftermath of winning today’s United States Grand Prix, the win enough to clinch his third championship with three races remaining.

Despite starting second, the Englishman came through to win the race, taking the lead from Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg with eight laps remaining after Rosberg ran wide at Turn 16, the entry into the triple-apex right-hander around the Circuit of The Americas Observation Tower.

It’s Hamilton third’s win at COTA in four years, and his fourth USGP win overall in five starts, having also won his U.S. debut in the final USGP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007. A fourth place in 2013 was his only non-win here.

Understandably, Hamilton was at a loss for words upon his arrival to the podium, although he’d later elaborate further in a near half-hour post-race press conference.

“I feel amazing,” Hamilton told Sir Elton John, who conducted the podium interviews.

“I want to say thanks to the whole crowd, staying through the rain. I hope we put on a good show for you.”

Indeed they had – Hamilton leading a predictable podium of he, Rosberg and Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – although it was far from a predictable race in changing weather conditions.

“I can’t find the right words this second,” Hamilton said. “I couldn’t have done it without this team. They’ve been here for me the last three years. Faultless. Thank you guys for everything you do for me.”

Asked by Sir Elton what his plans were for the evening, and with John to play a show here this evening, Hamilton more-or-less invited himself.

“You throwing a party? I’m gonna be there. I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said.

Prior to that of course, Hamilton led the top-three finishers into the press conference, draped with his British flag over his firesuit.

He began to reflect on the moment, and on the elements that defined his race.

“I hope if there is anything inspiring for today, it’s never give up,” Hamilton said.

“There were so many times I though I’d lost the race. Safety car, pitting when we did, for example. I never for one second gave up hope though.

“It’s a very humbling experience, to equal Ayrton Senna, who meant so much to me and still does today. I feel very, very blessed today.”

Hamilton noted the initial impressions of winning yet another World Championship; as noted, his third matches Senna, who he’s now two career race wins ahead of (43 to 41).

“This is the ultimate goal. You want to win in everything you compete in,” Hamilton said. “Hopefully be better than everyone else.

“Winning at least one World Championship signifies your greatness, but the people around you and the greatness of their partnership.

“I was so grateful for the first one. I told Ron (Dennis) when I was 10, someday I’d win a World Championship in one of your cars… then almost 10 years later I did.”

It’s also the first time in three titles won that Hamilton has clinched prior to the final race of the season. He’d won in Brazil and Abu Dhabi in the final race of the season.

“To be honest, the last year, last two times was really quite stressful,” he explained. “One was 17 seconds before the end of the race, something like that.

“Last year was amazing, but it took a lot out of us. It was double points and anything could have happened.

“This one feels just as special, if not more special. This one kind of tops last year for me, because it equals Ayrton. Which I never really thought I’d be able to win.

“I really didn’t think a few years ago I’d be sitting here… but I thought I’d win championships at this team. As a kid I just wanted to be World Champion. This is the greatest.”

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”