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GP Week : Issue 84A
Hamilton heads surprise Macca 1-2 LEWIS Hamilton took his first victory of the year on Sunday, with an aggressive drive that saw him hunt down Mark Webber on his first stint, and then claim the lead when the Red Bulls clashed. He made a poor start from second on the grid, getting too much clutch slip and losing out to Sebastian Vettel's RB6, which is extremely good at generating heat into its tyres. But the Englishman ducked under the Red Bull's wing and made his move around the outside of Turn 3. Then he galloped after Webber. Team mate Jenson Button lost out to a fast-starting Michael Schumacher but was able to pass the Mercedes later in the lap too. It was a breathless start to a superb race. Hamilton was right on Webber's tail but was losing out in Turn 8, where the RB6's balance was reigning supreme. The McLaren was able to close up on the straights thanks to its F-Duct, and kept trying to make the move at Turn 12, but couldn't quite get close enough. Over the lap, though, Hamilton was definitely quicker so it came as a great surprise that McLaren chose to bring him in on Lap 16 -- right behind Webber. Had he been able to continue for another lap or two he surely would have leapfrogged the Aussie. As it was, Hamilton's stop was poor. There was a two second delay with the fitting of the right-rear-tyre, and this pushed him behind Vettel, who pitted on lap 15, in the running order. He tried to pass Vettel but locked up his left-front, allowing Button to close up. On lap 19, only 2.3 seconds separated the first four cars. On lap 40, Vettel and Webber collided. Adrian Newey had his head in his hands, but along the pit wall Martin Whitmash was punching the air with joy. On lap 48, as light rain started to trickle down the drivers' visors, the same fate looked like it might befall McLaren. At the same place as the Red Bull incident -- Turn 12 -- Jenson made his move. The pair were side-by-side through the final three corners, Jenson taking the inside line out of Turn 14 and leading down the pit straight. Hamilton, however, got a tow and forced himself down the inside of Turn 1. The pair touched wheels -- Lewis'girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger turned from the TV and covered her eyes -- but the cars were undamaged and Button backed down. Lewis said a miscommunication from the team led to Button closing in on him on lap 48. "I was set a lap time target to save fuel, but this target was too slow. Suddenly Jenson was right on my tail and was able to slipstream past me." "We're allowed to race out there, but we have to be sensible," reflected Hamilton. "At the end of the day we're a team: we both want to win the constructors' title and we both want to win the drivers' title. But we're not stupid. I wouldn't do anything dangerous to touch Jenson -- and vice versa -- and that's the great thing about racing each other. We know we have that cushion and that respect for each other, so we don't really have a problem with it. It's likely Button was then told to hold station and conserve fuel, as he backed off dramatically in the closing laps. Lewis dedicated his victory -- his first since Singapore last year -- to his father Anthony, who turns 50 (Monday).. Hamilton's win promotes him to third in the title chase, while Button is now second, just five points behind Webber. "Red Bull made it tough for us and we put up a good fight," said Hamilton. "You can see how close it is between the four of us. It's down to momentum, and we will do the best we can to win both championships." McLaren now moves ahead of Red Bull in the constructors' championship by one point. How to race side-by-side without taking each other out ... watching Seb? 28