MONACO, May 25 – An emotional Lewis Hamilton was quick to thank his family, fans and team Sunday for his stunning and memorable victory for McLaren in a rain and accident hit Monaco Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old Briton said his first victory on the streets of the Mediterranean principality was the "highlight of my career and will be for the rest of my life."
After winning and then embracing his brother Nicolas in front of the winners’ podium, Hamilton, who now heads the drivers’ standings by three points from Kimi Raikkonen, sprayed his team in champagne.
"That was so emotional, so, so emotional," he said.
"The last 20 laps seemed to last forever and I was just saying to myself ‘you can do it, you can do it’ and ‘bring it home, bring it home’.
"I knew I just had to stay out of the walls. I had a big lead. And I was thinking too of Ayrton Senna who won here so many times and it was a bit special.
"I have always had a lot of belief in myself and my team and we did it."
Hamilton confirmed that he believed this was his "best ever" moment in Formula One and in his career as a racing driver.
"It is my first win here, in Monaco, and to win it here from third on the grid and not from pole position is fantastic.
"But the team, the guys, did a great job when I brought the car in after I brushed the barriers at Tabac (on lap six).
"I came on and I told them and they were ready and did a brilliant job. I was lucky it was only the right rear wheel."
Hamilton said it meant more to him to win in the wet in such difficult circumstances, with wet and then dry conditions and two Safety Car interventions, than if he had started from pole position and driven clear.
"My brush with the barriers probably helped because I came in and we were able to fill up the tank and I went out on wet tyres, so we were in good shape," he said.
"Then we could have gone virtually on a one-stop strategy and I could take my time to the end. But anything can happen as it did last year in China."
He added: "It was great to have a 40 seconds lead, but I needed a lot of luck and it was just great."
He said he wanted to thank his team, McLaren, for their great work and support at the track and in England, and his family who were all with him in Monte Carlo and his many fans back in Britain and at the track.
"I am thinking of all of you," he said.
Hamilton admitted he was "singing my head off" on the final lap because "I was so happy."
As he finished, his engineer said over the car radio that "the drinks are on you, Lewis," he said.
"I was just about to reply and say that’s fine," he said, "when Ron Dennis came on and said ‘don’t worry I’ll pay for the drinks’ so I thought that was even better," said Hamilton.
"We are going to have a nice meal and a party, but we have to concentrate on the next race, too!"