F1 United States Grand Prix

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Hamilton surprised by second straight F1 win

Jun 17, 2007 - 9:20 PM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton admitted he never believed he could win back-to-back races after claiming the checkered flag in the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

The 22-year-old, the first black driver in Formula One, followed up his maiden victory in last Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix with another in a memorable first season. For McLaren it was a one-two finish with Fernando Alonso following Hamilton home.

It is now seventh straight podium finishes for the young Brit from the first seven races of his grand prix career.

Hamilton opened a 10-point lead in the drivers' championship over teammate Alonso, with the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen third and fourth.

"Fantastic. I'm extremely pleased and proud for the team," Hamilton said. "Never in a million years could I have imagined I'd be sitting here today with these drivers having won both races in North America.

"It's a great leap in my life and I'm extremely thankful, to my family, to God and to my team. What a dream. To come into two circuits I didn't know for the first time, to come out with such pace and to be competitive and to see how much work was put in at home in the factory, in Stuttgart and here has been fantastic."

There was drama at turn one as Hamilton, having secured his second straight pole, came under pressure off the grid from Alonso, just as he had in Montreal.

But he held his line and the lead into the turn, although there was trouble after the leaders had gone through as Ralf Schumacher slid out at turn one, hitting the Honda of Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard's Red Bull.

While Schumacher was quick to get out of his Toyota, Barrichello and Coulthard made it round to the pits but both were forced to retire soon after.

Hamilton found it hard going keeping Alonso at bay at key periods of the 73-lap race.

"The first couple of laps was extremely close and I managed to open up a gap," he said. "The middle section was hard, and I started to get a problem with my tires, which could have been because I was maybe pushing too hard. Fernando was right on my tail and in my slipstream.

"I managed to open up a gap again on Fernando, but it was a very, very tough race. The team came on the radio and said 15 laps to go and those 15 laps lasted a lifetime. I'm very emotional."

It did not get much tougher for Hamilton than at the start of lap 39, when Alonso made an attack on the lead, running down the outside of his teammate on the long home straight.

The McLarens raced side by side for much of the straight, but the Brit held his ground and when they reached turn one, the threat had been thwarted.

"It's such a tough circuit, when you lose a bit of time through the last couple of corners that's it," Hamilton said. "You really leave yourself wide open to being overtaken.

"Fernando was extremely fair, especially at the start of the race."

Alonso knew it would be difficult to catch Hamilton.

"It was close but on this circuit it's difficult to overtake," Alonso said. "You have one chance, at turn one, and maybe turn nine too. So you have to be focused going into those corners.

"I had only one chance and it was not possible, so after that I didn't. You cannot follow any closer than one second. Eight points are better than nothing and we increased the gap on Ferrari which is important."

When Alonso was asked if Hamilton had followed the rules in holding his lead, the Spaniard said he thought it seemed fair, but would have to look at the television for confirmation.

But Hamilton revealed his knowledge of the race regulations.

"Can I say that in the rules, you are only allowed to make one move down the straight and going into the corner you're allowed to move back into position or at least move back to try to get yourself round the corner," Hamilton said.

Renault rookie Heikki Kovalainen was again in the points in fifth, with Toyota's Jarno Trulli sixth. Mark Webber scored his first points of the season in the Red Bull, taking seventh place, and 19-year-old Sebastian Vettel, a late stand-in for Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber, was eighth on his debut.

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