Lewis Hamilton delighted to answer critics

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton believes he answered his critics in the perfect way possible - by adopting the advice of his father and doing all his talking on the track.

The great and the good of motor sport have had their say on Hamilton over the past couple of months after watching his error-strewn performances and listening to his ill-judged comments.

The likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell have all made their feelings clear as Hamilton crashed into rivals, and even McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.

Then after feeling picked on by the stewards there was the "Maybe it's because I'm black" remark that led to an embarrassing climbdown and letter of apology to FIA president Jean Todt.

Occasional criticisms of the team and car, and his shock visit to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in Canada to apparently chat over a possible future drive, have also resulted in Hamilton's stock plummeting.

Finally the true Hamilton returned over the weekend of the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring where he stunned everyone who dared to chastise him with a mature, whole-hearted performance.

Claiming a front-row spot and going closer than anyone has all season to deposing Red Bull from pole was a revelation.

In the race itself, to lead on four separate occasions in the face of intense pressure from Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber before taking the chequered flag for the 16th time in his Formula One career, was Hamilton at his best.

No wonder in the aftermath of the race, as the celebrations began in earnest, the 26-year-old told Press Association Sport: "I'm buzzing, really buzzing."

It was naturally a highly satisfying victory, with Hamilton adding: "I cannot express the feeling inside when I win. I cannot imagine anything ever feeling as good.

"It's a mixture of a lot of things, from not expecting to win, to ups and downs, the things said against you, the experiences you go through.

"The win then is a victory for the whole team, and you feel a whole wave of energy wash over you.

"When I cross that line I can feel the whole team jumping, back at the factory jumping, and it's an amazing feeling to be part of something like that."

The words said against him did appear as if they were starting to take their toll, with Hamilton's demeanour changing as he became a little more withdrawn.

When asked about the negativity over the past two months, he joked: "It's been almost all year hasn't it?"

There was a sense then that the win in Germany was payback, but he said: "My dad always told me when I was growing up to do my talking on the track.

"It's very difficult to stick to that because sometimes you want to let things out off the track, which I have.

"But in this race I did do all my talking on the track, and it felt amazing to be able to put in a performance like that.

"It's not very often you get to do those kind of performances.

"Maybe if the car felt like that all the time then it would be easier to do it more often, but it really felt great."

It was a win that also had team principal Martin Whitmarsh purring, and a further riposte to those who suggested his job was on the line.

"What can I say? Lewis was perfect in qualifying, perfect in the race, and the result was perfect too," said Whitmarsh.

"The team made all the right strategy calls, and the pit crew executed their pit stops faultlessly under extreme pressure.

"When that happens the victory is mighty satisfying.

"I reckon this victory was one of Lewis' very best, a scintillatingly authoritative performance that all too clearly underlines what a fearsomely competitive individual he is."

With the Hungarian Grand Prix up next this weekend, there is the obvious hope the display in Germany was not a one-off as he seeks to further close the gap - now 82 points - to Sebastian Vettel.

"Coming into the weekend I was quite realistic, and I am quite realistic of where we are at the moment," said Hamilton.

"But to be honest, I really don't know what to expect at the next race."