MEM­O­RABLE THRILLER

Hamil­ton over­comes Vet­tel in the ‘rawest’ of fights

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ADRAINED but happy Lewis Hamil­ton hailed an “awe­some” Se­bas­tian Vet­tel on Sun­day af­ter win­ning a Span­ish Grand Prix that the Bri­ton de­scribed as the “rawest” of fights.

The two ri­vals, with seven world cham­pi­onships be­tween them, were in a race of their own at the Cir­cuit de Catalunya as they lapped all but Red Bull’s third placed Aus­tralian Daniel Ric­cia­rdo.

Bang­ing wheels, the one al­most forc­ing the other off the road and get­ting hot un­der the col­lar as they fought for the lead, the Mercedes and Fer­rari ri­vals pro­duced a mem­o­rable thriller.

“That’s how rac­ing should be and I loved it and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” gushed triple cham­pion Hamil­ton af­ter chalk­ing up the 55th win of his ca­reer to cut Vet­tel’s cham­pi­onship lead to six points.

“I prob­a­bly lost two ki­los just in that race,” added the Mercedes driver, who re­vealed he had no wa­ter bot­tle in his car in or­der to save weight.

“It’s drain­ing, the car is fast, to keep up with him... he drove fan­tas­ti­cally well and it’s a real priv­i­lege to race against such an awe­some driver.”

Hamil­ton had se­cured pole po­si­tion on Satur­day but wheel spin left him play­ing catch up as Vet­tel seized the lead from the start.

What fol­lowed was a strate­gic tus­sle, with dif­fer­ent tyre strate­gies that re­sulted in Hamil­ton en­ter­ing his fi­nal stint on the quicker soft tyres and Vet­tel, still lead­ing, on the harder medi­ums.

The two went side by side as Vet­tel came out of the pits for the last time, the Ger­man hold­ing off the Bri­ton with a bit of stron­garm tac­tics.

“I was more than half way along­side and he pushed me wide,” com­plained Hamil­ton over the ra­dio at the time, be­fore tak­ing the lead seven laps later with Vet­tel mut­ter­ing that he had “no chance” of hold­ing him off.

“I think it was the rawest fight I can re­mem­ber hav­ing for some real time, which I loved,” said Hamil­ton.

“This is what the sport needs to be ev­ery sin­gle race for sure. This is why I race and this is what got me into rac­ing in the be­gin­ning. To have that close bat­tle with him, with a four-time champ, is awe­some.”

Spain fol­lowed on from a dif­fi­cult Rus­sian week­end for Hamil­ton, the Bri­ton fin­ish­ing fourth in an over­heat­ing car.

He might have been hot on Sun­day, but the Mercedes was not the prob­lem.

“From turn one to the end it was flat chat (full speed),” he said. “You’re just us­ing ev­ery­thing you’ve got... to stay on (keep up with) Se­bas­tian was a killer.”

REUTERS PIC

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamil­ton tries to over­take Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel at the Span­ish Grand Prix on Sun­day.

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