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.”