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Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Sunday, 29 August 2010 16:20 UK

Lewis Hamilton rates Spa win among best of career

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton delighted after 'incredible' win

Lewis Hamilton hailed his victory in an incident-packed Belgian Grand Prix at Spa as one of the best performances of his Formula 1 career.

In changing conditions, the McLaren driver controlled the race from the start after passing Mark Webber off the line to register his 14th GP win.

"I'm ecstatic, a race like that can be a lottery, and I'm so happy to come out on top," said 25-year-old Hamilton.

"It almost feels like this is my first win. It's just phenomenal!"

The result brought him level with former world champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Sir Jack Brabham and Graham Hill, who each had 14 wins during their careers, in only his fourth season as an F1 driver.

But he needed one piece of good fortune as rain fell during lap 35 and he ran wide at Turn Eight, coming within inches of the barrier before recovering the car from the gravel.

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The 2008 world champion said: "I was losing temperature on the tyres and I locked my wheel and went wide, but I was able to get away with it and stay ahead of these guys.

"The team did a remarkable job, we're constantly pushing, we're not as fast as some of these guys, but it's great that we maximise what we have.

"At the end I was hoping the safety car would stay out a bit longer! Then it was about nursing the car home and bringing it back in one piece, keeping a small gap between me and Mark [Webber] and bagging those points."

The victory gave him a three-point lead in the drivers' standings with six races to go this season, while defending world champion Jenson Button, who was forced to retire following a collision with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on lap 16, trailed his McLaren team-mate by 35 points.

He really is at the top of his game at the moment, but he has been driving well for a couple of years

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh

Button said the accident was a "massive blow" to his chances of keeping his title.

Meanwhile, Webber insisted he was happy with second in his Red Bull after a disastrous start which saw him lose six places before Turn One.

"I got a big 'bog' on the formation lap and we made a small adjustment on the clutch, but it got worse at the start.

"Second is fantastic. It's very easy to come away with nothing following a small mistake."

Hamilton, meanwhile, was praised by McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who saw his other driver, reigning champion Jenson Button, have to retire after a collision with Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel on lap 16.

"There's no doubt about it: today we saw a truly fantastic race and an utterly brilliant victory," said Whitmarsh.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh

Whitmarsh hails 'fantastic race' from Hamilton

"Apart from one heart-stopping excursion, Lewis was in command of things from lights to flag, and drove prodigiously well all afternoon - all weekend, in fact.

"From the moment he went out on Friday morning, he was palpably excited about being here at Spa, and it was clear that he always felt confident that a win was on the cards.

"He really is at the top of his game at the moment, but he has been driving well for a couple of years. We needed it, and he's now leading the drivers' championship."

Fernando Alonso's race got off to a terrible start when his Ferrari was hit by Williams's Rubens Barrichello on the first lap and although he battled through the field after pitting his race eventually ended on the 39th lap.

The Spaniard remains in fifth place in the drivers' standings and Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is still optimistic he is still in contention for the world title.

"Three of the [top-10] leaders didn't score, so everything is possible," said Domenicali.



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see also
Hamilton wins Belgian Grand Prix
29 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Button blames 'confused' Vettel
29 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Red Bull 'may have to prioritise'
29 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Belgian GP as it happened
29 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Belgian Grand Prix race results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Belgian Grand Prix photos
29 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Belgian Grand Prix starting grid
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Sunday's F1 gossip column
29 Aug 10 |  Formula 1


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