ROOKIE HAMILTON MAKES HISTORY WITH USGP WIN AT INDY INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, June 17, 2007 -- Rookie Lewis Hamilton continued his improbable climb to the top of Formula One with a record-setting victory June 17 in the United States Grand Prix the...
ROOKIE HAMILTON MAKES HISTORY WITH USGP WIN AT INDY
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, June 17, 2007 -- Rookie Lewis Hamilton continued his improbable climb to the top of Formula One with a record-setting victory June 17 in the United States Grand Prix the at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hamilton, age 22 years, 161 days old, became the first rookie to win the USGP at Indianapolis and the second-youngest driver to win a major event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Only Troy Ruttman, who won the 1952 Indianapolis 500 at age 22 years, 80 days old, was younger when he took the checkered flag at IMS. Hamilton also became the first black driver to win a major race at IMS.
The victory at the famed Speedway's 2.605-mile road course came one week after Hamilton's first Formula One win, June 10 at the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal. Hamilton never had competed at either circuit.
"What a dream," said Hamilton, who completed the race in 1 hour, 31 minutes, 9.965 seconds at an average speed of 125.145 mph. "To come into two circuits that I didn't know, first time, to out with such pace to be so competitive. They've (team) done a fantastic job. I'm so thankful to them. It's the perfect team. I'm really happy I could put the icing on the cake."
Today's result included a 1-2 sweep by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes as Hamilton's teammate, two-time defending F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, finished second by a margin of 1.5 seconds. The duo also swept the front row in USGP qualifying June 16, with Hamilton taking pole.
Scuderia Ferrari teammates Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen finished third and fourth, respectively, and Heikki Kovalainen finished fifth in his ING Renault F1 Team entry. This was Massa's second consecutive podium finish at the USGP, after he finished second in 2006.
Hamilton led from the start, but Alonso continued to stalk him throughout the race. Alonso pulled even with Hamilton on Lap 39 but failed on an attempted outside pass entering Turn 1.
After the failed pass attempt, Alonso stayed within 1.2 seconds of Hamilton over the next seven laps. But on Lap 47, Alonso slid slightly into the grass in Turn 8, giving Hamilton a 2.5-second cushion.
"Fernando was right on my tail," Hamilton said. "It was very, very tough. He fought very well, very professional. At the end, I managed to pull a gap and maintain that gap."
This is the second time McLaren has won the USGP at Indianapolis. Mika Hakkinen won in 2001.
Hamilton led 66 of the 73 laps, tying Michael Schumacher's record number of laps led in the race set in 2000.
The only major incident of the day involved contact between Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Ralf Schumacher, Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard and Honda Racing F1 Team driver Rubens Barrichello in Turn 1 on Lap 1. Schumacher's car was stranded in Turn 1 after the contact while Coulthard and Barrichello returned to the pits but dropped out with damaged cars.
American driver Scott Speed finished 13th in his Scuderia Toro Rosso entry.
"We struggled a lot out there," Speed said. "With our low downforce and it being so slippery out there, it did not go together. We needed the track to pick up more grip for this to work. It was definitely a tough race just to keep the thing on the track, so to come away 13th is not bad. I'm pretty happy with the result."
Fifteen cars in the 22-car field were running at the end of the race, which was run in the warmest temperatures in USGP at Indianapolis history. The air temperature was 97 degrees at the start of the race.
Hamilton built a 58-48 lead over Alonso in the F1 Drivers' Championship standings after seven of 17 races. Massa is third with 39, Raikkonen fourth with 32, and Nick Heidfeld is fifth with 26. In the Constructors' Championship, McLaren holds a 106-71 lead over Ferrari. BMW Sauber F1 Team is third with 39 points.
The next round of the 2007 Formula One World Championship is the French Grand Prix on July 1 at Magny-Cours.