Hamilton hails best weekend as he keeps title hopes alive
Mercedes ace keeps title hopes alive by going from back of field to top of podium
The most challenging of weekends turned into one of the best for Lewis Hamilton, as he snatched a victory in Brazil yesterday morning (Singapore time) that brought back memories of another epic win as a junior fighting for his future.
The seven-time world champion went from 20th and the back of the field in a Saturday sprint to 10th on the grid for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos - and then to the top of the podium, with Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen second.
With a new engine, Hamilton produced a peerless drive to overcome penalty points after his car was judged to have breached technical rules on Friday.
Hamilton said his father had reminded him of how, in a Formula Three weekend in Bahrain in 2004, he went from 22nd in qualifying to 11th in the sprint to decide the grid and then won the main race.
"After that showing, McLaren re-signed me," he said. "I was fighting for my career at the time. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to make it to Formula One."
He is now fighting for a record eighth title, his victory at Interlagos leaving the 36-year-old 14 points adrift of Verstappen with three races left and all to play for.
Hamilton said he had gone in "guns blazing" after the Saturday setback and was relentless in passing rivals and hunting down the Dutchman.
"This is what a world championship battle should look like," he said of Sunday's scrap, with the pair going wheel to wheel and Verstappen defending with determination until Hamilton finally made a move stick.
"It's hard battling and wouldn't expect anything less really. We didn't touch wheels, which is good," he said of the most controversial incident as they battled on lap 48.
Hamilton tried to overtake but Verstappen moved across and both cars went off the track together, with accusations that the Red Bull driver had gone too far and gained an unfair advantage.
Stewards took an immediate look but decided against imposing any time penalty.
Damon Hill, Britain's 1996 world champion and former rival of Michael Schumacher, said on Twitter that Hamilton's performance was "one of the best drives I've ever seen in F1. By anyone. Utterly awesome."
Hamilton, now the winner of a record 101 races, thanked his compatriot for the compliment.
"I really do feel, from my own personal experience, it's been one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging with the things that we've faced during the weekend," he said.
But he added later that it turned into one of his best weekends, if not the best weekend, that he experienced probably in his whole career.
Verstappen, however, believes he will bounce back.
The 24-year-old Dutchman said: "We still have a decent lead so today was a bit of damage limitation. I'm confident, in the coming races, we will come back stronger."
The F1 season concludes with three races in the Middle East, with Qatar making its debut as host this Sunday, followed by Saudi Arabia and the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates in mid-December. - AFP, REUTERS