BARCELONA (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton said he would sleep “like a baby” on Sunday after claiming another of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One records with a 64th win that felt as special as any.
The champion had sounded very different in Azerbaijan two weekends ago, when a 63rd victory fell into his lap after Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture while leading with three laps to go.
“It’s the greatest feeling to come here and have that kind of performance and a convincing win,” the Briton told reporters after taking the chequered flag more than 20 seconds ahead of second-placed Bottas.
“Anybody who has a win wants to do it that way,” he added of the team’s first one-two of the season. “It’s definitely a great, great feeling.
“Not every race feels as great as that one does. To think that it’s my 64th but it still feels like the first, still feels special, still feels unique in its own and the journey to it is why it feels unique.”
The win was Hamilton’s 41st from pole position, one more than the previous record he shared with retired seven times champion Schumacher.
“It just still is very, very surreal to think that every now and then I keep coming up against Michael in terms of records and it just reminds me of what a great he was,” said the Briton, now 27 races short of the German’s all time tally of wins.
“It’s taken a long time to be where I am today and he has some serious records and it’s hard to beat a lot of these records that he had.
“It’s always an honour when his name is brought and mine is brought up at the same time.”
Hamilton, who also holds the record of 74 pole positions, had started from the top slot for only the second time this year.
His usual one lap prowess had been eclipsed by Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel in the previous three and Baku was his first win of the season.
The Briton had felt that one was neither earned nor deserved, although he was probably being overly harsh on himself, but Sunday’s race saw him lead cleanly from the start and pull away.
For the first time this season, he felt truly at one with the car.
“I’ve been racing a long time so to still have that feeling when you do have that win, and that happiness and that uplift inside (is special),” he said.
“That feeling that I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight, because I know I’ve done my job this weekend to the maximum and I didn’t leave anything on the table, there’s no better feeling.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis