Lewis Hamilton admitted he was left in shock after defying the odds to win a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix.
Hamilton was the beneficiary of a frenetic opening corner in which his championship rival Sebastian Vettel, the German's Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, and Red Bull's Max Verstappen were all taken out of the race in a stunning three-way crash.
The incident, one which could prove the defining factor in this year's title battle, paved the way for Hamilton to claim his third win in as many races and move 28 points clear of Vettel at the summit of the Formula One standings.
Hamilton had been placed as a 16/1 outsider to win the night race after he qualified a distant fifth with his Mercedes machinery struggling at the slow and twisty Marina Bay street circuit.
The Briton claimed he needed a miracle to win and it arrived in the form of rain, Vettel's race-ending collision, and his own masterful performance in the wet, to ensure he can now afford to not score at one of the remaining six races and still be crowned champion.
"It could not have been any more perfect given that we are at a circuit where Ferrari have been in another world," Hamilton said. "I definitely went into the race thinking it was about damage limitation and trying to minimise the loss.
"I could have come out a lot worse. So, to go in the other direction is a shock, but I will take it and I am grateful for it. The conditions were fortunate, they fell into our direction, and we capitalised on it. God blessed me today, for sure."
Hamilton, 32, also revealed that he believed a vision from his childhood hero Ayrton Senna helped inspire him to victory.
Senna, the triple world champion, crashed out from the lead of the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix. So furious was the emotional Brazilian that he abandoned his McLaren at the scene of the accident and headed straight for his apartment without speaking to a single member of his team. It was not a scenario Hamilton wished to emulate.
''Every now and then Senna pops into my mind,'' said Hamilton, who finished ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. ''It was the Monaco Grand Prix where he was in the lead and he hit the wall.
''That always comes back to me, and it reminds me not to do that. I have had experiences like that of course, but it is almost like he talks to me and says 'stay focused and keep it together'.''
16 April 2018
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