ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton returned to the top of the Formula One podium for the first time this season on Sunday with a smile of delight that only rubbed salt in Red Bull’s wounds.
The 2008 world champion, without a victory since September, led McLaren team mate and champion Jenson Button in a one-two finish in Turkey after his Red Bull rivals collided in front of him.
While Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel blamed each other, Hamilton put on a display of harmony afterwards by embracing Button and hugging his team mate’s father before spraying the champagne.
The two Britons had also jousted on track, fighting hard for the lead without putting a wheel out of place or banging into each other.
Button offered his immediate congratulations over the team radio: “That was excellent, well done Lewis,” said the older Briton, who has already won twice this season.
“Me and Jenson had a good little battle,” said the 25-year-old Hamilton of his 12th career win. “He got me on the outside into turn 13 and then fortunately I was able to get him back into turn one and so that was definitely unexpected.
“But a really fair battle with him and a great result for the team. Our second one-two. I think we truly deserved it and I want to dedicate this win to my dad. It’s his 50th birthday tomorrow. Perfect way for him to celebrate.”
The only jarring point of the afternoon came when a questioner asked Hamilton at the post-race news conference whether he was now back.
“I don’t think I was ever gone,” he said.
“I have just been a little unfortunate up until now and I think bit by bit myself and the team have just worked very hard to chip away.
“Yesterday we qualified second. We knew that was just one step we needed to make. They made it very tough for us but we put up a good fight.”
Hamilton was right behind the Red Bulls when they collided 18 laps from the finish and he could scarcely believe his luck.
“It was great to watch, it was like an action movie in HD or 3D; it was fantastic,” said the Englishman, now third in the standings and nine points off Webber’s lead.
Hamilton also had his American singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger with him at a race for the first time this year and is sure to encourage her to come along more often.
“I wouldn’t say no to it,” he said when asked whether she was his good luck charm.
“Every time she seems to come I seem to win. I think it was Monaco 2008 she came, Hungary I won and Singapore (last year), so she is definitely a little bit lucky for me I think.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar