Lewis Hamilton hopes his achievements will inspire kids as he produced a stunning drive to win the Turkish Grand Prix and clinch his seventh drivers’ championship.
Starting from sixth, Hamilton was not expected to be in the frame for victory in wet conditions after qualifying five seconds off the pace, with Racing Point and Red Bull showing themselves to be much quicker in the early stages. After a sublime drive through the field to take an unexpected victory, Hamilton wrapped up his seventh title and was emotional when trying to compute what he has achieved.
“I’m definitely a bit lost for words,” Hamilton said. “I think naturally I have to always start with saying a huge thank you to all the guys that are here and all the guys back at both our factories and all our partners for enabling us and giving us this opportunity, I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t join this team and the journey we have been on has been monumental. I’m so proud of them.
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“I also want to say a big, big thank you to Team LH for sticking with me all these years, and then to my family. We dreamed of this when I was young and we were watching the grands prix and this is way, way beyond our dreams.
“It’s so important for kids out there to hopefully see this and know that don’t listen to anybody who tells you that you can’t achieve something, dream the impossible and speak it into existence. You’ve got to work for it, you’ve got to chase it and never give up and never doubt yourself.”
Hamilton rose to third on the opening lap with a strong start but ran wide at Turn 9 to drop to fifth and then never looked to have race-winning pace until he made the decision to stay out on worn intermediate tires as the track dried and put in exceptional lap times to overtake Sergio Perez for victory.
“Today we knew coming here was already such a difficult weekend;we weren’t really massively disappointed with our qualifying position, we knew that we were kind of on the back foot and we did the best we could. But we learned a lot. This is what we do as a team. There’s no blame game — we do hash it out and we try to improve our communication so that we can make moves forwards.
“We don’t always get everything perfect but today we had that small moment at the beginning of the race with the new tires and then I couldn’t get past Seb (Vettel) for a while. At that point I could see (Alex) Albon pulling away and I was thinking ‘Jeez, this race is falling through my fingers.’ But I just kept my head down, kept believing that I would just pick up pace at some point at some stage and that’s what I did.
“There was a point where Seb was pulling away from me and I couldn’t figure out at the time what it was. So I was checking my temperatures — I didn’t know whether it was because my tires were overheating or they were too cold but I think I got through the real rough phase of the graining of the tire and then it started to come back. The track was drying in areas and I was improving my driving lines all the way through the race and I started to pick up pace.
“Then Seb pitted and for me I knew that wasn’t the right choice personally, so I just decided to stay out and as the tires got more and more slick, that’s exactly what you needed because fortunately that intermediate tire holds temperature. If I had gone out on new slicks I wouldn’t have made it ’round, but it was the best decision.”
A forecast late downpour could have ruined Hamilton’s race but despite Mercedes calling him in for what the team described as a “safety stop” two laps from the end, the Briton opted to stay out on track. He said he had learned from the experience of losing out on winning the title in his rookie season.
“You remember I lost a world championship in the pit lane (in China), so I learned my lesson from 2007, that’s for sure. I felt like I really had it under control and the grip was feeling good and I was going to deal with the rain if it dropped.”