Lewis Hamilton waved at the fans and tapped the US flag atop his helmet as he jumped up and down on the scuttle of his McLaren in what the Americans like to call "Victory Lane" rather than "parc ferme", celebrating one of the best races in a great season.
"I'm so happy," he beamed from beneath his Pirelli stetson. "It's a long time since I last won, and to be able to beat Red Bull and Sebastian [Vettel] was definitely a tough challenge but we managed to do it. It was very difficult to follow him in the first stint, and since we pitted two laps before him he came out quite far ahead, but the traffic which usually catches me out worked slightly more in my favour this time.
"I knew that the lap I passed him would be the one on which I had my chance, so I turned the engine up and went for it. It's such a great feeling to be the first man to have won here, as I can say that I won the last time that we were in the US too."
Vettel, after time to reflect following his heat-of-the-battle comment to his race engineer when Hamilton overtook him, was back to his usual sunny self.
"I wasn't actually complaining about Lewis," he explained, "but obviously I was not too happy to send a nice big invitation to him after being held up by a backmarker or that Lewis then took that opportunity. I tried to defend and moved to inside, but I knew he had so much speed that he could have gone past me on either side. Obviously I was not happy because up until then I had been able to keep him back. It was not so much a tirade against Lewis, but against [Narain] Karthikeyan.
"We communicate a lot through the race but not all of them are broadcast; some are calmer than others…"
The German insisted his outburst had nothing to do with the pressure of his title fight with Fernando Alonso.
"I wasn't really thinking of the points that could make the difference today or next week. I just wanted to win today," he said.
Alonso's brilliant drive kept him in play until the finale on Sunday, with a 13-point deficit to Vettel. "We knew we had a good chance to overtake people into the first corner," Alonso said. "It was like a victory for us, losing only three points after what happened in qualifying."Reuse content