SAO PAULO • Lewis Hamilton vowed to hunt down Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg for the Formula One world championship after he emerged victorious from a chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix to keep his title chances alive.
It was an emotional triumph at Interlagos - the home track of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna - and a performance that echoed the extraordinary feats of the Brazilian, as Hamilton came through pouring rain and led from pole position to chequered flag.
It was also the 52nd victory of the Briton's career, surpassing the total notched up by Alain Prost, Senna's great rival.
Hamilton is now second only to Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 victories.
The 31-year-old now goes to the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi on Nov 27 just 12 points behind Rosberg, but with the momentum and determination to pull off one of the most extraordinary comebacks in the history of the sport.
BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX
1. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 3hr 1min 1.335sec
2. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes +11.455sec
3. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +21.481
4. Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India +25.346
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +26.334
6. Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso +29.160
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India +29.827
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull +30.486
9. Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber +42.620
10. Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren +44.432
OVERALL STANDINGS DRIVERS
1. Rosberg 367pts
2. Hamilton 355
3. Ricciardo 246
4. Vettel 197
5. Verstappen 192
1. Mercedes 722pts
2. Red Bull 446
3. Ferrari 375
4. Force India 163
5. Williams 136
Rosberg, who was second in Brazil, still has the advantage and Hamilton will not only need victory in Abu Dhabi, but his team-mate to finish fourth or lower. It is a tall order but Hamilton refuses to give up.
"I am hunting," Hamilton told the crowds of fans who flooded on to the drenched Interlagos track.
"I am hunting and all I can do is what I am doing right now. It is going to be very hard to beat Nico but I am going to push as hard as I can."
During a race that was disrupted by five safety car periods and two stoppages totalling more than an hour, Hamilton was relaxed, claiming his win was easy despite the rain that fell on the Interlagos track.
"I was genuinely chilling up front," Hamilton said.
"When it rains it is usually good for me. There were no mistakes, no issues, no spins. It was interesting hearing about so many people having slips but I didn't have any."
Rosberg conceded that it was just not his day, especially under the difficult conditions.
"It didn't go my way today," he said. "Lewis did a great job. It was very difficult conditions, but I can live with second place."
The German's torture in the rain was in stark contrast to Hamilton's dominant drive - and also that of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
In the last 15 laps, after a change to extreme wet tyres, the 19-year-old overtook more than half the starting grid as he went from 16th place to third.
That performance left his father Jos, a former F1 driver, astonished.
"I have seen many of his races," he said, "but this was incredible. It is great for Formula One and everyone is enthusiastic about Max. What more do you want?"
Hamilton's win was his first victory in Brazil in 10 attempts, but he won when victory was of utmost importance and in conditions that Senna, buried just a few miles from Interlagos at the Morumbi cemetery, would also have relished.
"This has been my dream since the first time I saw Ayrton Senna race when I was six," Hamilton said.
"This experience is so surreal, it won't kick in until later after all the years of trying to win this Grand Prix and all the emotions that go with it."
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS