SIX KEY MOMENTS DURING LEWIS HAMILTON’S 2015-TITLE-WINNING SEASON:
Melbourne, March 15
– After winning his second drivers’ title in the double points finale at Abu Dhabi last season, Hamilton pledged to improve in every way for 2015. The proof was in the pudding at Albert Park where he arrived in determined mood, looked fit and focused and drove with the confidence of a champion. He stamped his authority on proceedings and the season ahead with a dominant performance, taking pole position, victory and fastest lap.
Shanghai, April 12
– Hamilton’s grip was loosened by Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia, where Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg clocked the fastest lap, and a mere second place in the race amid reports that his focus was affected by his diversions in the United States and his new single status after losing his girlfriend. But he bounced back with a vengeance in Shanghai with another cleansweep of pole, victory and fastest lap.
Monte Carlo, May 24
– Rosberg had rallied and enjoyed a strong weekend in Barcelona at the Spanish Grand Prix where he won from pole. For the champion, the season threatened to implode when his Mercedes team bungled his pit-stop strategy in Monaco where he led supremely from pole and was then called in for tyres in a move that gifted victory to Rosberg. Hamilton finished third, swallowed his disappointment and vowed to bounce back stronger. He did.
Silverstone, July 5
– If Rosberg had harboured hopes of stopping Hamilton’s championship express, after they traded wins in Canada and Austria, he knew it was imperative to beat him at Silverstone on home soil. But in front of an impassioned 120,000 crowd, Hamilton was never more inspired and reproduced his very best form and dominated the British Grand Prix weekend.
Monza, September 6
– This was the weekend when Hamilton must have felt the title was his for the taking as every decision went his way – not only did he complete another perfect treble of pole, race win and fastest lap, but Rosberg had to retire in the closing stages due to engine failure. On top of that, he emerged with his win intact following a stewards’ inquiry into his Mercedes car’s tyre temperatures after the race and had a mighty lead of 53 points following his seventh win of the season in only the 12th round.
Sochi, October 11
– Another slice of ill-fortune for Rosberg cemented Hamilton’s place at the top of the standings despite being outpaced by the German in practice and qualifying. Rosberg took pole, led the race but then had to retire with a throttle failure in the Sochi Autodrome and Hamilton, who had survived an accident in Hungary and a retirement in Singapore, increased his wins tally to 10 and his title race lead to 66 points on Vettel, and 69 over Rosberg. Russia was final confirmation of Hamilton’s intensity and desire to triumph.