Formula 1's Latest Rumours, Talk: Lewis Hamilton's Title Triumph, Mercedes, More
Lewis Hamilton sealed his third Formula One world title in Sunday's United States Grand Prix and immediately declared his 2015 success was his best yet.
It was quite a statement to make, given the highly dramatic, joyous circumstances surrounding his previous triumphs in 2008 and 2014, but reaching the top has left the British driver with something of an internal battle.
After realising his lifelong dream of matching Ayrton Senna's title tally, just weeks after surpassing the Brazilian's race victory total, Hamilton has admitted he has no defined targets for the remainder of his F1 career.
That discussion, however, is for another day, and Hamilton is currently receiving tributes from several paddock figures—with Mercedes colleagues Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, as well as McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, offering their congratulations.
But despite his happiness with the Silver Arrows' achievement in retaining both the drivers' and constructors' championships, Wolff has revealed the team are likely to remind Hamilton of his responsibilities after his first-lap overtake left team-mate Nico Rosberg in a huff.
While Alonso and Button were applauding their former team-mate, both were left distinctly unimpressed with McLaren-Honda's lack of progress despite the team producing one of their most convincing performances of the season at the Circuit of the Americas.
Closing this week's roundup is Daniel Ricciardo, who at one stage threatened to delay Hamilton's coronation before being ambushed by first Nico Hulkenberg and then Carlos Sainz Jr, leaving the Red Bull driver frustrated.
Lewis Hamilton Overwhelmed After Securing 3rd F1 World Championship
Lewis Hamilton believes his third world championship triumph is his most satisfying yet after sealing the 2015 Formula One title with victory in Sunday's United States Grand Prix.
Hamilton claimed his 10th win of the campaign at the Circuit of the Americas after a dramatic, rain-interrupted race, in which he snatched the lead from his chief rival, Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, with just a handful of laps remaining.
His second successive title comes just a fortnight after Mercedes retained the constructors' crown, with Hamilton claiming the sheer level of their dominance has only served to sweeten their success.
In 2008 and 2014, the British driver won the championship in tense circumstances in final-race title deciders, but after securing the crown with three rounds to spare—and matching the title tally of his boyhood idol, Ayrton Senna—Hamilton regards 2015 as his best yet.
He told BBC Sport's Andrew Benson: "The last two times were really climactic in the last race. This one still feels just as special if not more special. It has kind of topped last year for me—it's equalling Ayrton."
Hamilton has never hidden his admiration for Senna, who was killed in a crash at the 1994 San Marino GP at Imola, and after edging ahead of the Brazilian's victory tally with his 42nd win at the recent Russian GP, Hamilton now stands third in the all-time list of grand prix winners.
And the 30-year-old, having achieved his lifelong dream, admits he has no clear target in mind for the remainder of his F1 career, telling the same source:
For me the target was always to get the three Ayrton had. I don't know what's coming next. There is no-one else I want to equal or emulate.
I feel like I have the baton now for myself and Ayrton and I will carry it as far as I can and see where I can build it.
As a driver you want to win everything you compete in, to perform at your best and hopefully better than everyone else. When you win a title that signifies I guess your greatness and the people around you.
Hamilton dedicated his achievement to his family, adding: ""It's just crazy to think I am now a three-time champion. I owe it all to my dad and family who sacrificed it all to see me here."
Niki Lauda, Mercedes Lead Tributes to Lewis Hamilton After Title Triumph
Three-time world champion Niki Lauda led the tributes to Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver secured his third title at the United States Grand Prix.
As Mercedes' non-executive chairman, Lauda has worked closely alongside Hamilton since the British driver's arrival from McLaren at the beginning of 2013.
Hamilton's third title triumph drew many comparisons with Ayrton Senna, but Lauda—who won the championship in 1975, 1977 and 1984—offered a tongue-in-cheek reminder that Hamilton is still no better than he was, before suggesting the best is yet to come.
"Now he's only as good as I am—I'm joking," the Austrian told Motorsport.com's Charles Bradley. "He will get better and win more (titles), I tell you."
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff arrived at the team at the same time as Hamilton and offered his congratulations to his driver, telling the same source: "Lewis deserves the world championship, he was brilliant in his driving ... It's an amazing feeling, double constructors' and drivers' champions."
As well as his current colleagues, Hamilton also received the praise of his fellow competitors and, in particular, his former team-mates.
Fernando Alonso was a newly crowned two-time world champion when he partnered Hamilton, then a 22-year-old rookie, at McLaren in 2007. Eight years on, the Spaniard remains rooted on two while Hamilton continues to cement his place as an all-time great.
According to BBC Sport's Andrew Benson, Alonso said of Hamilton's 2015 campaign: "Really strong performance, well deserved. Fantastic. Congratulations. He dominated all season. Last year Nico (Rosberg) was a little closer and gave him a little bit more of a fight, but this year it was not a fight. Lewis was very strong from the beginning of the year."
Jenson Button, meanwhile, remains the only team-mate to outscore Hamilton over the course of a given season, and praised the three-time world champion.
"Congratulations to Lewis. Great job," the 2009 title winner told the same source. The team are in another category at the moment, they are doing such a good job. But fair play to Lewis, he has not put a foot wrong and he has come away on top."
Mercedes Plan to Discuss 1st-Corner Move with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has revealed the team plan to hold clear-the-air talks between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg after their first-corner scuffle in the United States Grand Prix.
After starting from pole position, Rosberg—as we have come to expect since the revised race-start procedure was introduced—made a substandard getaway and almost immediately lost his advantage to Hamilton, who claimed the inside line for Turn 1.
Rather than backing out of the move, Rosberg remained on the outside of the corner and tried to repass his team-mate, but in doing so invited Hamilton to run him off the circuit, with the W06 cars making slight contact.
Although it appeared to be little more than a hard, racing incident—similar to Hamilton's pass on the first lap of the Japanese GP, albeit in tricky, slippery conditions—Rosberg, who later gifted the lead, the win and the title to his team-mate by making an unforced error and running off the track, was outraged.
In the post-race FIA press conference, the German claimed the move was "extremely aggressive," adding: "We hit each other, or I would say Lewis came into me, so obviously that’s not good."
And while Wolff refused to allow the tension between his drivers to taint a day of celebration, he explained Rosberg had the right to feel aggrieved by Hamilton's manoeuvre, telling Motorsport.com's Jonathan Noble:
I think he [Rosberg] has reason to be upset for that particular incident. It was too hard and we need to pick it up and discuss it.
During the race I was happier because emotionally the race panned out for Nico to win it, and that would have recovered the situation finally.
But Nico made that one mistake that cost him the race win. So I think it is important that we sit down in a couple of days and discuss it—because we don't want it to escalate in to something bigger.
It is the moment we have won the world championship, but I think it needs talking about.
I don't want to take anything away from Lewis, as he deserves the title. Reducing our discussion now to that one incident is not right.
But obviously we need to talk about it a certain stage.
Mercedes' willingness to step in before the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry turns nasty suggests the team fear another Spa-2014 moment—at a stage of the season when both drivers, no longer competing against the backdrop of the world championship, can take more risks—could be on the horizon.
Wolff, however, has promised the team will not change their approach ahead of the final three races, telling Noble in a separate Motorsport.com article that Mercedes will continue to deliver "full blast, free racing."
Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button Unhappy Despite Rare McLaren-Honda Points Finish
McLaren-Honda scored points for only the fifth time this season in the United States Grand Prix, but Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were still left deflated after the chequered flag.
After a poor performance in Russia, where a penalty for exceeding track limits dropped him out of the top 10, Alonso returned to form at the Circuit of the Americas, securing the team's best qualifying result of the year and recovering from a first-lap collision with Felipe Massa to run as high as fifth in the latter stages.
The two-time world champion utilised an updated Honda power unit in Austin, Texas, to take advantage of the uncertain conditions. But despite being on course to match his best result of 2015, a loss of power left him exposed to those behind in the final 10 laps, with Alonso ultimately finishing 11th.
Referring to his performance as "probably one of the best races of my career," Alonso admitted he was devastated to suffer the issue so close to the finish, telling Autosport's Glenn Freeman:
We were one minute behind the penultimate car on lap two, then we were fifth 10 laps from the end and the pace was really strong.
It would have been a little miracle what nearly happened today, but we had an engine issue in the last 10 laps.
It feels better to fight with other cars and be competitive, but on the day we are this competitive, all these issues are not welcome.
We recovered, we fought very hard, so the feeling now is a little more sad than happy.
Despite running without the new-spec engine, Button finished sixth to claim his best result of the season. It also marked his fourth points finish—his second in succession.
But the 2009 world champion felt his strong result did little to paper over the cracks at McLaren, telling the same source: "We did a good job with strategy, but other than that, the pace of the car was not that exciting. Our pace is nowhere near what we expected. We need to go away and look at why."
Daniel Ricciardo Frustrated by Rivals After Austin Collisions
At one stage of the United States Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo led the race by almost nine seconds. But when the 56 laps came to an end and the chequered flag waved, the Australian was 10th, with only a point to show for his efforts.
Much of this, of course, was due to the drying conditions at the Circuit of the Americas, which meant Red Bull's RB11 chassis was unable to sustain its pace in the wet.
But Ricciardo was also unfortunate to be the victim of a number of mid-race assaults, making contact with two of his peers.
On Lap 36, he was hit by the battering ram that is Nico Hulkenberg's Force India at Turn 12, resulting in the German's instant retirement. The Australian then collided with rookie Carlos Sainz Jr, who edged toward the Red Bull under braking at the same corner on Lap 49.
Over the last two years, Ricciardo has established himself as one of the most confident, opportunistic overtakers in F1 and has criticised his competitors' aggressive approach in wheel-to-wheel combat, urging them to be smarter when drawing alongside another car.
The three-time grand prix winner told Motorsport.com's Andrew van Leeuwen:
I didn’t really feel like any of them were my fault, but it sort of spiralled downwards from there.
I don’t want to single them out, but some of the young guys are a bit too excited. The big one is when they move on braking; you don’t have to squeeze the guy once you’ve started braking.
By that stage, you lock a brake and you’re out of control. I think they can be a bit more intelligent next time.
Despite a frustrating end to his afternoon, Ricciardo admitted his brief spell at the front of the field had reminded him of his highly successful 2014 campaign, adding: "It felt good. It felt like old times."