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by Mark Hughes on 4th July 2016
Gloves off. Last lap. Old tensions and new ones. Why did they take me off my one-stop strategy when it was all going to plan? Why’s he on the faster tyre now? Well, there were reasons, good ones, but this is the adrenaline of battle and all the paranoia that ensues and this is Lewis Hamilton. He lives for these high-octane moments, coming back against adversity; it’s his natural habitat and he was hauling in his prey.
From the outside this last lap was the climactic end to a brilliantly vivid race, one that included an exploding tyre at 200mph spinning the race-leading Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel out of the race. Seb was only leading because he was out-of-sequence with the Merc guys on strategy though. The real fight was always between pole-sitting Hamilton and grid-penalised Nico Rosberg. Up until this last lap that fight had been a largely strategic one, one step removed from wheel-to-wheel. But now the differing strategies that circumstance had forced upon them were playing out on the final lap. From the Mercedes pit garage it was stressful; simultaneous excitement and dread. It’s a team that continues to strive hard to provide equality of opportunity for two guys fighting for the world title. But circumstances inevitably conspire to muddy the waters where the paranoia breeds.