Hamilton: I was always in control
Race winner Lewis says he was managing his pace in closing laps
Last Updated: September 9, 2012 6:51pm
Lewis Hamilton says he never felt unduly troubled by the charging Sergio Perez in the closing stages at Monza after he claimed a sublime maiden victory in Italy.
The McLaren driver, the centre of attention throughout the weekend off the track, kept clear of the drama that that enveloped many of his fellow title contenders behind him during Sunday's 53-lap race to cruise to his third victory of the season and second in the last three events.
However, into the closing stages, Hamilton's then 14-second lead began to whittle away at a fast rate of knots as Sergio Perez, flying on a reverse tyre strategy compared to the top cars, continued to tour at more than a second a lap faster than the McLaren having passed both Ferraris for second place.
But, speaking to Sky Sports F1 after securing what is a crucial win for his title aspirations, Hamilton insisted that he had been in control throughout:
"I had a 14-second gap I think it was - a 14.5-second gap - and he was catching a second a lap at the time I was cruising.
"I tried to just balance that out over the eight laps or so I had left, then he started getting a little bit closer so I switched it on a bit and minimised the amount he was catching me."
By winning at Monza Hamilton brought up McLaren's third win in succession - the first time the team have claimed such a hat-trick since 2008, the year Hamilton won the Drivers' title.
Although acknowledging the pace of his nearest rivals on Sunday, Hamilton admitted McLaren's recent upgrades had worked perfectly - although expressed some lingering regret that he failed to score at Spa last weekend.
"It's incredibly close between us and the Ferraris, and obviously the Saubers were incredibly quick this weekend, but we've done a fantastic job," Lewis said.
"We came with a really good package for the last couple of races and it's been a shame I have not got the maximum I needed to get from the performance that we've had for the last few races.
"But obviously to have two wins in the last three grands prix is good and I hope that we can continue with that pace."
Although Hamilton's joy was tempered somewhat by the fact that championship leader Fernando Alonso recovered from 10th on the grid to third at the flag, to increase his overall points advantage over the field, the Briton is now the Spaniard's closest - and, most importantly, biggest challenger heading into the final seven flyaway rounds.
"The gap's been quite big - 40-something points for a while - and the pressure is on in the team and the championship to close that little by little," he added, having moved to within 37 points of Alonso.
"When I heard that Fernando was second I thought 'how did he get from tenth to second?' But then I heard Sergio had passed him and I thought that's good. I was hoping that someone else got past him but nonetheless we still got good results."