Lewis Hamilton explained on Sunday night how he coaxed his car home to win the first United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of Americas and keep alive the Formula One world title pursuit until the final race in São Paulo next week. The leader and reigning champion, Sebastian Vettel, came second.
Hamilton, who was robbed of victory in Singapore and Abu Dhabi because of technical issues, stroked his McLaren car in the last three laps in the hope he would not be struck by more gremlins. "I rubbed the car and said 'Come on baby, we can make it'," he said. "It's been a great weekend and a great feeling to have won the first race here, as I won the last one in America five years ago."
Red Bull won the constructors' championship on Sunday but Vettel's hopes for a third drivers' title will have to wait until Brazil next Sunday, when he will go into the final race of the season with a 13-point lead.
Hamilton added: "I'm not fighting for the world championship – I'm just having fun. It gives me a huge amount of satisfaction to be able to beat Red Bull and Sebastian. They were incredibly strong but we were able to do it.
"First-time winner! I'm so happy. The fans were amazing. It was such a warm welcome and one of the best, if not the best, race of the year – especially for me and the team. It's been a long time since we had a win."
Graciously accepting runner-up spot as well as looking ahead to next week's season finale, Vettel said: "It was clear that Lewis Hamilton was the man we were racing today. But the car is working well and good enough to fight for the win. We've been quick in Brazil the last couple of years, and I have extended my lead in the championship, so we are in a good position."
There was controversy before the race when Ferrari decided to break the seal on Felipe Massa's gearbox. This gave him a five-place grid penalty, promoting team-mate Alonso to seventh place and, more importantly, to the cleaner side of the track. This, and Mark Webber's retirement, helped Alonso to another points-salvaging podium finish.
Commenting on Ferrari's actions, Sky commentator Damon Hill said: "It's a very strange sport where you can gain an advantage by sabotaging a team member."
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