Following his victory in the US GP, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton said he was confident of exploiting the mistakes he could see Sebastian Vettel making ahead of him
Lewis Hamilton says Sebastian Vettel blew his early lead of the United States GP by overcooking his tyres.
Hamilton also revealed he was “surprised” Vettel did not fight him harder when he overtook the Ferrari to retake the lead on lap six.
A victorious Hamilton eventually finished the race 10 seconds clear of his title rival to leave the Mercedes driver poised to wrap up his fourth world championship next week in Mexico.
“When Sebastian got a better start than me, l didn’t know how it was going to go. But then I noticed l was able to remain relatively close. Did l know l was going to be able to overtake him? Initially, l was just thinking l needed to stay close and wait for the pit-stops,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
“But then l could see him pushing and l was thinking ‘I am pretty good on my tyres right now and he is going through that corner too quickly, he is going to kill his tyres’. And that’s what he did – he was driving too quick through some of those corners when he didn’t have to. He blew.
“If he had backed off in those places, he would have been able to keep me behind, I’m certain.”
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In a separate interview with Sky F1, Hamilton added: “Before the race, you have to sit and study where you need to save the tyres. There are corners which are tougher on the tyres than others. At points in the lap, he wasn’t saving tyres and l was thinking ‘he is going to run out of tyres way before me because l am saving there’. And that is what happened.”
Drivers’ Championship title permutations in Mexico Result Hamilton fifth or higher Hamilton is champion Vettel second Hamilton is champion if he finishes ninth or higher Vettel third or lower Hamilton is champion
With Hamilton now all-but-certain to be crowned world champion, a dejected Vettel reflected: “Not quick enough, that sums it up.
“As a team, we want to win, l thought we could today but we didn’t, which is why l am not happy.
“Lewis was a lot quicker, when he got past he was just playing. Not a good day.”
Having lost out to Sebastian Vettel at the start of the US GP, Lewis Hamilton retakes the lead on lap six
Hamilton overtook Vettel at Turn 12, but was expecting to be made to work harder for the lead.
“I was a little bit surprised Sebastian didn’t defend more, I would have, but it was fair,” he said. “I was a bit surprised he didn’t block but, as l said, his tyres were dropping off anyway.”
Despite losing the lead at the start, Hamilton said he felt “chilled” and enjoyed the challenge of hunting down and then passing his Ferrari rival.
“It was one of the most fun races I’ve had for a while,” he added. “Didn’t get a great start but I was kind of chilled about it from the past knowing you can overtake it.
“It was very reminiscent of 2012 here. I had a lot of fun trying to get closer and it obviously came down to the overtake in Turn 12, which was the same in 2012.
“That’s what I look for.”
At the start of the race, Hamilton and Vettel’s cars had made slight contact into the first corner when the Ferrari snuck ahead.
“It was interesting,” reflected Hamilton. “I moved over at the start and then he moved on me through the braking so l had to avoid a collision. He didn’t need to go in this direction, but he did.”
Will Lewis Hamilton clinch his fourth world championship in Mexico? Watch the Mexican GP weekend live on Sky Sports F1 – the race begins at 7pm on Sunday. Want to watch but not got Sky F1? Buy a NOW TV pass from £6.99!