Lewis Hamilton believes Sunday's victory at the U.S. GP proved he is a top driver
McLaren driver says he "beat the supposed best."
Last Updated: 22/11/12 12:20pm
Sebastian Vettel had looked dominant at the Circuit of the Americas after topping every practice and qualifying session, but Hamilton was on fire in the race, recovering from a slow start on the dirty side of the grid to hunt down and pass the World Championship leader.
The 2008 World Champion is out of contention to win this year's title, but after beating the only two men who can win it, he believes he should be seen in the same light as the sport's other top drivers.
"I think I stamped my mark on the sport and showed I have the status that the others do," Hamilton said.
"Even though I am not competing for first or second in the Championship I still hold that drive. I just beat the supposed best.
"I think I have been driving at my best all year, getting stronger and stronger and this was my strongest performance of the year.
"To be able to push and not make mistakes and to hunt Sebastian down and see him make mistakes is a great feeling.
"They say you are only as good as your last race. It would be nice to be battling for the Championship but that is the way that it is, so I have to be grateful for where I am and what we have achieved.
"We would have had a lot more wins but for the problems we have had. But this makes the rest disappear and allows us to move forward and smile."
This Sunday's race at Interlagos brings an end to Hamilton's long association with McLaren as he embarks on a new chapter in his career with Mercedes in 2013.
"Regardless of what happens, I am leaving on a high," he added.