Crossing the line on Sunday in Sochi was a really amazing moment. To win the very first Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix and help the team achieve the first Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish – it couldn’t have got much better. When I went to the factories in Brackley and Brixworth the week afterwards, the atmosphere was just awesome. Everybody has worked so hard to achieve this title and they all deserve to savour the moment. Of course, we still have three races left to decide the Drivers’ Championship – starting in Austin, which is one of the best weekends of the year. A lot of the American side of my family come to the race, plus I won the first ever Formula One Grand Prix at the circuit back in 2012, so it’s a special one for me. I really enjoy going there and I’m looking forward to another great race – hopefully ending up with another Stetson hat on the top step of the podium!
Austin - In the Cockpit with Lewis
Coming across the line, all you can see is this huge hill in front of you on the run up to Turn 1. As you’re braking you actually lose sight of the apex over the tyre. The corner itself is really tight and really low-grip so it’s tricky to get it right. But it’s important to get the best exit you can as you’re then flat out through Turn 2 and into the ‘S’ complex of Turns 3 – 6.
This combination of corners is fast and flowing, needs good downforce and requires the driver to hit every apex to carry as much speed as possible. Positioning really is everything through here to ensure you set yourself up for the next corner with each turn. The next sequence through Turns 7 – 9 is a little tighter and you really have to take your time on entry to ensure the best possible exit through the kink of Turn 10 and downhill along the short straight to the hairpin.
The hairpin at Turn 11 is really tight. You want to brake as late as possible on the way in to defend from cars behind you – but a good exit is far more important as it’s followed by a long straight with a DRS zone. You then need good stability on the brakes into Turn 12, which is a heavy braking zone, before really attacking the apex and getting on the power early to launch you into the next sequence.
Turns 13 – 15 form a really tight complex of corners with very low grip, so you’re waiting for what seems like ages for the car to turn in. Turn 15 in particular is quite tricky in terms of finding the right braking point and the best line. You have to go really wide on the way in, then come tight to the apex and keep left for the next corner.
Turns 16 – 18 form one long, continuous right-hand bend that’s really high-speed. It’s flat-out through here but the car is constantly trying to snap away from you. You’ve then got to make sure you get back over to the right-hand side of the track as quickly as possible to carry the speed through the penultimate corner, Turn 19, using all of the kerb on exit. Finally, you’re braking into the last corner, Turn 20, where you don’t want to take too much angle on the way in before a short blast to the finish line.