Lewis Hamilton stifled his critics and obliterated the “second year syndromeâ€ theories with an auspicious charge to the second step of the podium in Istanbul McLaren masterminding the rostrum finish with a genius three stop route, but Hamilton ultimately the architect of his “best race ever”.
On a day when Ferrari should have cantered off into the distance, Lewis Hamilton, in machinery by no means suited to the undulating 5.4km Istanbul Speed Park, put in a dazzling display of grit and determination keeping Ferrari s Felipe Massa honest right up until the chequered flag.
At one point the Stevenage sensation even forced his way past the Ferrari driver, just to keep his strategy on track and maintain track position over Kimi Raikkonen.
Hailing his performance as the best of his career, the result brings Hamilton right back into contention for the title with Kimi Raikkonen s championship lead reduced to just seven points.
“I am so thrilled with today s result, and I think this is the best race ever for me,â€ exulted the McLaren ace. “It s not about winning, it s about feeling that you extract 100% from yourself and the car and I did that today.â€
“Before the race our prediction was that all being well I would finish fifth, so second is such a bonus. I was not happy with my performance yesterday and perhaps if I had managed to get the car on pole I could have won.â€
Ron Dennis was delighted with the performance from his protÃ©gÃ© under difficult circumstances.
“Today we saw a truly phenomenal drive from Lewis, in which he optimised a three-stop strategy that we were forced to adopt as a consequence of concerns we had with his tyres.â€
Crucially for McLaren s championship hopes, the Englishman reckons that his team, who were trounced by Ferrari a fortnight ago in Barcelona, have taken a huge step forward in performance:
“I believe we have closed the gap to our main competition which gives the team a great boost before heading for Monte Carlo.”
Hamilton admits that his three-stop strategy was not the quickest way around the 58-lap race but believes it was necessary to delay using the soft tyres which hampered his MP4-23 throughout the weekend. Teams are obliged to use both compounds in the race.
“We knew that we would have to use a three stop strategy as a precaution as we had some issues with our tyres,â€ explained the 23-year-old.
“The team did a fantastic job, the pitstops were great, and the balance of the car was superb, and we all kept our spirit up. There were no problems with the tyres in the race.â€
“I managed to overtake Felipe at one point and I really think we have closed the gap to Ferrari.â€ Hamilton concluded.