I was in a different headspace - Hamilton revels in Austin pole

Virginia Santiago
October 22, 2018

Lewis Hamilton was made to wait another week for his fifth Formula One world title after the Mercedes driver finished third on Sunday in a U.S. Grand Prix won by Ferrari veteran Kimi Raikkonen.

The 33-year-old championship leading Briton topped the times with a late flying lap that kept him narrowly ahead of his only remaining title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari who, after taking a three-place penalty, will be fifth on the grid.

The world championship looks certain to fall eventually to Lewis Hamilton, but Mercedes boss Wolff admitted that if it can be wrapped up sooner rather than later, Valtteri Bottas may be asked to move aside.

It has been a mixed season for Renault, with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr and struggling for consistency, but respective finishes of sixth and seventh in Austin makes it their best result of the year.

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"I was pretty happy with the laps I had. I don't know why they wouldn't want to win the race, I think they did want to win the race but it just didn't play out the way that we planned".

"I thought we would have been able to do better today but it was great that we got to do some racing", Hamilton said.

"I think people don't understand I'm actually very happy with where I'm going", he said. Tough weeks for the team and the tough times don't seem to be stopping for me. "If it comes, it comes; if it doesn't, it really doesn't change my life one bit".

When qualifying began, the two Ferrari men were swiftly setting the pace with Vettel on top early in Q1.

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Vettel slipped past Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and into fifth on the restart, but he was nearly 10 seconds behind fourth-placed Verstappen, where he remained for the opening stint. "The first lap was good, but being that I was less than one-tenth ahead I knew the next lap these guys would improve also, so there was no room for error".

"Certainly my competitive side will always believe that I'm the best and that in that vehicle I can do the same thing, yadda-ya", he said. So what condition they will be in after ten or so laps will be anyone's guess. But he'll start fifth because of a three-spot grid penalty for driving too fast under a red flag during a Friday practice. The Finn made a great start, diving down the inside of Hamilton at Turn 1, and then executed two handsome stints to convert into victory.

Yet, even if he were to engage in a second parry, it wouldn't have ended the championship fight - Vettel had been slowly closing the gap to Bottas and successfully launched a pass at Turn 12 on the penultimate lap, winning him enough points to take the title race to Mexico.

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