Hamilton storms through to SuperPrix win
Sakhir, Bahrain, December 10, 2004: Lewis Hamilton came through from the lower reaches of the grid to take victory in an amazing inaugural Bahrain Formula 3 SuperPrix today. The British driver racing for Manor Motorsport did a perfect re-start from behind the safety car in a two-lap sprint to the finish and battled to a career defining win.
Hamilton had started the day 21st on the grid after an accident yesterday, but it was two spectacular race re-starts that helped him to victory. He was 11th by the end of the first lap of this morning's qualification race, which is where he finished. That meant he would start 11th in the main race in the afternoon.
He again made a superb getaway - he was fourth at the end of the first lap. Then he was up to second passing Fabio Carbone and Nico Rosberg. But still he had Jamie Green, winner of the morning's qualifying race, ahead of him and looking a sure bet for the win.
Hamilton would have settled for a podium after Rosberg overtook him again in the middle of the race, but he thought his race was shot as his rear tyres began to wear. But he got a last chance when a late-race safety car bunched up the cars once more. When the car pulled away and racing resumed it was Hamilton who did the perfect job from third. Whilst Rosberg and Green watched and battled each other down to the second hairpin, he slipped through almost unnoticed into the lead. It was daring, dashing and a season redeeming moment.
He then needed only to hold on for a lap and a half, and he keep calm despite the fact that Rosberg was catching him. Green briefly dropped out of the top three as Lucas di Grassi also slipped past him, but as mistake by the Brazilian ensured that the Euroseries champion got the third step of the podium. The result represented a 1-2-3 for competitors from the Euroseries.
"I am just overwhelmed," said Hamilton. "I was just trying to preserve what I had in third. I couldn't even stay with Nico. I was pretty happy to see the safety car bunching the field. I anticipated it just right. Nico and I have been friends and team-mates for a long time and it is fantastic to come away first and second."
The Bahrain International Circuit was singled out by all drivers as an exceptional venue, Winner Hamilton remarked "the track and facilities are amazing. I've never seen anything like it."
Rosberg added: "I was also pleased to get a last chance to overtake Jamie. We both got it wrong just after the restart though. I'm pleased though - this was a fantastic place to drive and overtake on: the best track I have ever driven on."
Franck Perera, who was on pole position for the qualification race, had an unfortunate day as he stalled his car at the start. That put him last and effectively out of contention for the SuperPrix.