Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Lewis Hamilton 'numb' after crashing out in his last Formula One race for McLaren

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren prepares to drive during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Lewis Hamilton (R) of Great Britain and McLaren and team mate Jenson Button (L) of Great Britain and McLaren drive side by side during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates on the podium after winning the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain drives among fragments of the car of Force India driver Paul di Resta of Britain behind the safety car during the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Mercedes Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher, left, of Germany, toasts with members of his team after competing in the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. Schumacher, a seven-time world champion, retired after the race. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, top, sprays champagne on his teammates after the Brazil's Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. Vettel overcame a first-lap crash to clinch his third straight Formula One championship title on Sunday, finishing sixth in an incident-filled Brazilian Grand Prix won by Jenson Button under pouring rain.(AP Photo/Andre Penner)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with team mates on the podium as he finishes in sixth position and clinches his third consecutive drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with team mates on the podium as he finishes in sixth position and clinches the drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari reacts on the podium after finishing second in the race and second in the drivers world championship following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates in his changing room with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as he finishes in sixth position and clinches the drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Jenson Button (R) of Great Britain and McLaren looks on as Fernando Alonso (L) of Spain and Ferrari reacts on the podium after finishing second in the race and second in the drivers world championship following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates on the podium after winning the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Race winner Jenson Button (R) of Great Britain and McLaren and second placed Fernando Alonso (L) of Spain and Ferrari celebrate on the podium following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with team mates on the podium as he finishes in sixth position and clinches his third consecutive drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel (C) of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey (L) and Team Principal Christian Horner (R) on the podium as he finishes in sixth position and clinches his third consecutive drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing is congratulated by Michael Schumacher of Germany and Mercedes GP in parc ferme as he finishes in sixth position and clinches the drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates in his changing room with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as he finishes in sixth position and clinches the drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari reacts in parc ferme after finishing second in the race and second in the drivers world championship following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with team mates on the podium as he finishes in sixth position and clinches his third consecutive drivers world championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone talks with actor Owen Wilson on the grid before the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren drives in for a pitstop on his way to winning the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 25: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is seen before the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 25, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton never made any secret of the fact that his last race for McLaren would be an emotional closure. Or that he desperately wanted to sign off with a victory to back up his wonderful triumph the previous week in Texas.

The 27-year-old Englishman has scored all of his 21 grand prix victories, and taken his 26 pole positions and 12 fastest laps, with the team he joined at the age of 13. "I've made friendships here that I know will last for life," he said. "But life is about challenge. I don't so much feel like I'm leaving home to go to university, more that I'm leaving university to go to my first job. Mercedes will be a huge challenge, but I feel I'm ready for it.



"I've had a great time. I think McLaren will always be my home. I'll always look at it as my home, it's where I've come from, and so going back there would be nice one day. But I want to go and experience some things along the way."



Before the race he thought that crossing the finish line for the last time in a McLaren would be sad. "But it's also going to be a beautiful thing in many ways as well, because I'm going to start a new chapter in my life."



Unfortunately, the incident with Nico Hulkenberg on the 55th lap meant that his last lap in a McLaren was not the final one to the line. "It was a little bit unfortunate," he said. "The dude didn't even say sorry. So that says a lot. That's what happens when you race with the less experienced.



"I feel OK, and I feel happy for the team to get the win. But I also feel a little bit like I did in 2007, when I lost the championship to Kimi [Raikkonen]. A little bit numb. For sure, I have mixed emotions. We were leading and we didn't get to see the race through. I always like to see the race through. But I'm also excited for the future…"



In the winner's post-race press conference, Hamilton's fellow Briton, and now former team-mate, Jenson Button said: "It's sad that Lewis is not here to enjoy his last race with the team. But that's racing. I'd like to bid him farewell – we've had a good time together over the last three years, some good fights, and I hope that he has a good career with Mercedes."



It was also an emotional day for the man who became only the third driver to win three F1 titles in succession, alongside Michael Schumacher and Juan-Manuel Fangio. "It is difficult to imagine what goes through my head now, even for myself," Sebastian Vettel said. "I am full of adrenaline and if you poke me now I wouldn't feel it.



"It was an incredible race. When you get turned around at Turn Four for no reason and it becomes like heading the wrong way down the M25, it is not the most comfortable feeling."



And the man he edged out? After a fraught race, Fernando Alonso said: "It was good, what we wanted with the mixed conditions – and one of the [hardest] races we have ever driven."

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