Lewis Hamilton felt “petrified” of suffering a car failure during Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas amid memories of his Malaysia heartbreak.
Hamilton’s hopes of winning a fourth Formula 1 championship in 2016 were dented in Malaysia earlier this month when his engine failed while leading the race by 20 seconds.
Hamilton arrived in Austin 33 points behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship, having not won a race since the end of July.
Hamilton scored pole on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas before a good start in Sunday’s race saw him surge clear early on.
Despite coming under light pressure from Daniel Ricciardo at the beginning and Rosberg in the closing stages, Hamilton remained in control to pick up his fifth USGP victory.
“This one feels great. I feel super chilled right now,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race.
“It’s not an ecstatic feeling; it’s more mellow and relieved the car made it.”
With the memory of his retirement in Malaysia still in his mind, Hamilton was wary of another issue on his car rearing its head in Austin.
“The whole race I was petrified the car wouldn’t make it. I was dreaded by the sound I heard in Malaysia,” Hamilton said.
“Lose power, or a gear, or gearbox or something. It was weighing on me the whole race. It’s the longest afternoon but we got the job done.”
Hamilton cut Rosberg’s lead in the drivers’ championship to 26 points, but would not be assured the title even if he won the remaining three races of the season. Rosberg can be assured of the title with two seconds places and a third.
However, Hamilton isn’t dwelling on the points permutations: “I just want my car to keep going! But I need to do the job. I can’t control what happens with these guys. This is a relatively easy feat. Staying ahead and winning races is my target.”