Former World Champion Lewis Hamilton put on a superb performance.
Hamilton didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon, not only keeping up a good pace while conserving his tires, but also making decisive passing moves that made sure he didn’t lose time behind other cars that were due a pit stop.
“It’s been a great weekend, really a great weekend,” said Hamilton. “I really didn’t expect it coming in. It’s probably been one of the toughest weeks for me. Obviously we hadn’t had the test, we were on the back foot when we came in. I really wasn’t even expecting to be on pole.
“Really surprised with that, and then at the start of the race the pace was OK. I think maybe Sebastian perhaps was just as quick or a little bit quicker but fortunately he was behind and my tires went off just maybe a lap or two before his. I think I called the pitstop just right – the first one – and after that it was just managing the gap.
“I had to make sure I got past people. I thought when I came behind Jenson I thought it was just my luck, because that’s what usually happens. But I got past him and was surprised to see Sebastian and the others get stuck behind him as well. I guess he did me a favor there. But I think generally we had the pace on everyone today.
“I know I was really controlling the pace, particularly through the second, third and last stint, particularly on the last stint. This is just down to an exceptional job from the team. We came here with upgrades and constantly doing work to try and understand these tires. I think today we bolted them on and they just worked for us.”
Hamilton conceded that the new tires seem to suit Mercedes.
“As I said, coming into the weekend, we are making improvements, but not big enough to make the difference it did today so I’m assuming that a large part of that was the tires. I really wasn’t expecting it. Our long runs didn’t look that great in P2 but I got the balance just spot on today with the front wing and yeah, if we can be quick here in a race with these track temperatures then I’m very hopeful that we can be competitive everywhere else, so this could be a really good… could be a good turning point for us.”
He said that the first Mercedes win was special for him: “I think it feels different. It always feels like it’s the first time, that’s for sure, when you win. I remember the first time I won it was exceptional, an exceptional feeling and today it was a really calming, relaxing feeling when I came across the line. I really wasn’t expecting it. As I said yesterday, I talked it down a lot because I really was expecting a real tough race today, I thought we were going to fall behind.
“The experiences I had at McLaren were some of my greatest but I think this is one of the highlights of my career up to now. Moving to a new team and a team that was struggling massively last year and to finally get a win with them after the first nine or ten races is a great feeling.”Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton