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Hamilton: Vettel 'made too many mistakes'

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, United States Grand Prix
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton said that Sebastian Vettel made it surprisingly easy for him to reclaim the lead during the early stages of Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton started on pole, but the Ferrari got the better launch off the grid and outdragged the Mercedes into the first corner. Vettel initially pulled out a lead over Hamilton, but that evaporated after six laps and the Briton was able to pounce.

“One of the most fun races I’ve had for a while,” said Hamilton. "I didn’t get away to a great start. Seb got a great start but I was chilled about it as I know you can overtake here.

“It was great having that battle," he continued. "Trying to keep up, stay close, get within DRS. It was very reminiscent of 2012 here, seeing Seb up ahead and wanting to have that real battle.

"That's what I looked for, and that is what I enjoyed the most.

"When Sebastian got a better start than me I didn't know how it was going to go. But I never stepped back in the sense of thinking I was on the backfoot. You step aside and take a new approach.

"I noticed I was able to remain relatively close," he recalled. "Did I know I was going to be able to overtake him? Initially I was thinking maybe I'd just have to stay close and wait for pit stops.

"But then I could see him pushing. I was thinking I'm pretty good on my tyres right now. He's going too quick through that corner, he's 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.

"The [tyre] temperatures would have been going up. If he'd backed off in those spaces he would have been able to keep me behind, I'm certain. But he didn't.

"He made a few mistakes, he was locking up, and I was like 'I've got this'. That's a great feeling when you've got that positivity and confidence.

"I was a bit surprised Seb didn’t defend more," he concluded. "But it was still fair."

Hamilton came within inches of losing the lead a second time when he delayed his pit stop, allowing Vettel to gain an advantage on fresh tyres.

"It was odd because I think I had like a six and half second lead or something like that, so I imagine the guys behind were another chunk behind that.

"Then I came out from the pits and Sebastian was right there with me and I was like, 'What the hell? Why's the hell is he so close?'

"It was definitely a bit too close I think in the first pit stop. But if he'd got past it would have been another exciting thing because I would have battled with him again to get by."

While Hamilton still hasn't quite mathematically clinched his fourth world drivers championship, his win in Austin did secure another constructors crown for Mercedes.

"Big congratulations to the team," he said. "I'm proud to have been a part of getting all those points for the team.

"Everyone's worked so hard back at the factory. To come from one era into a new era [of regulations] fighting a team like Ferrari and getting stronger through the year - oh man, that's such a great feeling. I hope everybody back at the factory is feeling the same way.

As for his own prospects, fifth place or better in the next race in Mexico will seal the championship regardless of what anyone else does.

"I plan on winning that one!," he said, although he wasn't convinced that Mercedes would have the advantage.

"I think the Ferraris are going to be quite quick there. I'm not sure how we're going to do at that track, I think they might have the upper hand. We'll see.

"I'll do my best to get the car in the best place and go in there with a lot of positivity. I love going to Mexico."

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