My previous two attempts to win this grand prix failed, with the conditions proving tricky on tyres – a three stop strategy was the way to go, but intermediate tyres don’t fare too well even on a three stopper, so the race would be a challenge.
Having qualified on pole, I felt reasonably confident of at least challenging for a win, but a slow start saw me drop to third and trail the battling duo of Webber and Barichello until lap 6, when I was able to close in and sweep by both of them on the start-finish straight. I tried to build up a gap that would allow me to retain the lead after the first round of stops, but the aforementioned tyre troubles meant I ended up behind the two of them after the stops had sorted themselves out.
In championship terms, I was on course to be champion – Button had been knocked out of qualifying in Q2, and had clawed his way back into the points but he was well behind me – so winning the race wasn’t crucial, but I had hoped to win at a venue I had failed at twice before. I wasn’t trailing by too much, but after the second round of stops I’d make a mistake that would end my hopes of victory.
Whilst attempting to sweep by Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Barichello (backmarkers had held the leaders up), I ended up going into the back of someone and had to serve a ten second stop-go penalty. The time lost to this meant I was never going to win, so instead the focus had to be on finishing ahead of Button.
This was straight-forward enough, I needed a two point (or more) gain on him to guarantee the title, and I was running in fifth after the final set of stops, whilst Button was in seventh. I was closing in on Hamilton but ultimately I didn’t push too hard. I just had to see the race out.
After 71 laps, I came home in fifth, and in doing so won my third title. With the championship mine, I could relax and look forward to enjoying the finale!
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