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Monday July 7, 2014 MYT 3:37:16 AM
Monday July 7, 2014 MYT 3:38:21 AM
by alan baldwin
SILVERSTONE England (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton ran a rollercoaster of emotions to give his home Formula One fans the win they wanted at the British Grand Prix on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Mercedes driver had been 'devastated' - his own father's description - after an error in qualifying seen by some as a pivotal moment in a season had handed pole position to team mate Nico Rosberg.
By Sunday evening, Hamilton was celebrating the second home win of his career and a triumph that took his tally to 27 victories - the same number as retired triple champion and compatriot Jackie Stewart.
Rosberg's first retirement of the season - compared to Hamilton's two - cut the gap between them to four points with the momentum suddenly swinging the Briton's way.
"Yesterday was a really difficult day," said Hamilton, who spent the evening talking things through with his father and family. "I went away feeling terrible for the fans.
"I felt that I had let them down, not only them but the team and myself. Coming back today, trying to turn that serious emptiness and negativity into a positive today was really my priority."
With the Wimbledon men's final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic under way, Hamilton likened his predicament to a tennis player two sets down and needing to focus and get back into the match.
"It’s so hard to get your mind in gear, to get yourself back and not lose points from then on. And so the pressure is high. But I really feel that now we’re back," he said.
"Yesterday was a real kick in the balls. I really had to pick up, pull up my socks and get on it if I want to win this world championship, and I can’t have situations like yesterday.
"The last two races I’ve easily had the pace to be on pole position and I’ve not put it there. I’ve put it much further back, made it much harder for myself but now I’m going to try to rectify that for the future."
Sixth on the grid, Hamilton was already fourth when the race was stopped on the opening lap. He swept into second place after the re-start and from that moment it was game on with the 2008 champion on a different tyre strategy to Rosberg.
The gearbox problem that struck Rosberg from lap 20 and ultimately forced his retirement robbed the fans of a real battle between the pair but, in a summer short of British sporting success, they could live with that.
"I thought maybe the fans could be the wind in my sails to really change the direction and get the momentum," said Hamilton.
"I’ve got the win today. I’ve got the points back. The points I’ve been chasing all year really, since I lost them at the first race."
"When you feel like the world is crumbling beneath you, somehow with your family and friends, they help pull you through and also the fans," he added.
On the podium, celebrating is fifth win of the season, Hamilton was still not entirely happy however.
After all that effort, the emotional stress and the elation of ending a losing cycle, the trophy itself proved a disappointment.
"Where’s the gold trophy, man? This thing’s falling to pieces, look," he exclaimed at being handed one presented by the race sponsor rather than the historic trophy with all the winners' names engraved on the base.
"The bottom fell off the one we just had. It’s plastic, it must cost 10 pounds! It’s so bad," he grinned later once he had got his hands on the precious gold one.
Moaning about the quality of the winners' trophy was, as his smile made clear, a problem he was more than happy to live with.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Keith Weir)
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