“We are driving to target, Lewis”
At the scene of his first victory in Grand Prix racing, Lewis Hamilton marks Mobil 1’s 300th race with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in style. He overcomes the time deficit of an extra pitstop to catch and pass two other World Champions in the closing laps to secure a memorable victory
Starting from second on the grid, Lewis chases polesitter Sebastian Vettel until they peel into the pits on successive laps. Hamilton emerges first even though his right-rear wheel is slow to engage. Ferrari, though, are faster still, dispatching Fernando Alonso into the lead when he stops on lap 19.
Lewis knows he needs to deal with Alonso straight away and duly sweeps past, driving round the outside of Alonso into the final chicane.
Although many other teams were planning just one pitstop, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes gameplan calls for two: all the data indicates that the tires will not last the remaining 50 laps. He has to make a decisive break, urged on by his race engineer: “We are driving to target, Lewis.”
“I was thinking that these guys were falling quite far behind so I assumed they were doing a one-stop,” Hamilton says. “But we didn’t think I’d be able to do a one-stop so I had to keep on pushing, increase the gap...”
Lewis makes his second and final stop with 20 laps to go, allowing Alonso and Vettel past, then after leaving the pits he immediately lights up the timing boards with the ferocity of his pursuit. He demolishes their leading margin and passes first Vettel, then Alonso, leaving them fading in his wake.
“I want to dedicate this one to all the fans out there, who are constantly sending letters and messages and always being so positive and supportive throughout the year,” says Hamilton. “I knew today would be a tough, tough race but I loved every single minute of it and I'm really grateful.”