Fuji test most difficult yet, says Hamilton

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton admitted his victory at the Japanese Grand Prix was one of the hardest races of his life.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton admitted his victory at the Japanese Grand Prix was one of the hardest races of his life.

The 22-year-old rookie produced a masterful drive in atrocious conditions at the Fuji Speedway yesterday to take a firm grip on the drivers' world championship.

A stunning debut season in Formula One scaled new heights when the 22-year-old defied the heavy rain that derailed team-mate Fernando Alonso's title bid - as well as two periods behind the safety car and a collision with Robert Kubica - to claim an invaluable fourth victory of the season.

Hamilton now has 107 points and, more importantly, a 12-point lead over his closest rival Alonso after the Spaniard lost control of his car on lap 42 before ending up in the barrier and out of the of the 67-lap race.

That brought out the safety car for a second time - it had also led the drivers round for the first 19 laps as heavy rain made racing initially too dangerous - meaning Hamilton had to negotiate two rolling starts as well as fighting back from sixth place at one stage in poor visibility after being driven into by Kubica.

"It was one of the most, if not the most difficult race I've ever had to do," he said.

"Just because the conditions were changing non-stop and you couldn't really see that much.

"I had two tear-offs on my visor. I took one off at the pitstop and it didn't make a difference. I took the other one off and I noticed the water was on the inside.

"You can't open you're visor while you're driving and clean it or anything, so I was struggling to see.

"It was also impossible to see in my mirrors through the spray behind me.

"Then I started to get overtaken by people so I asked the team if they were going to have to pit again and if I should just let them past to make it easier for me.

"Then there was the crash with Robert. It was such an eventful race, especially at the end when it started to rain more, and I still managed to keep it on.

"With all of the safety cars I was getting a bit nervous with all the drivers getting so close.

"I was also having to lift - the aquaplaning was unreal - so I'm just pleased to have brought it home."

Hamilton now has the opportunity become the first driver in the history of the sport to win the drivers' title in his debut season at next weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

He is now hoping he can then go on to emulate some of his legendary predecessors.

"Driving in the wet, leading and doing the last lap I was thinking of some of the races that Senna and Prost were in and it sort of made me feel that I'm on my way to achieving something similar to them," he said.

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