Lewis Hamilton says he had to overcome “excruciating” pain for a handful of laps after developing cramp during Formula 1’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
Hamilton started from pole position at the Algarve Circuit but dropped to third during the early stages amid tyre warm-up struggles on the Medium compound.
Hamilton worked his way back to the lead, passing Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and then opened a sizeable advantage.
But Hamilton explained that his path to a record-breaking 92nd victory was complicated by the discomfort he felt in the closing stages.
“I started having small cramp… it’s a very physical circuit but your throttle pedal, there’s lots of bumps, undulations, you’re applying the throttle pretty aggressively for pretty much every lap all the way and you never really get to rest,” said Hamilton.
“I was coming out of the last corner, coming around Turn 15 onto the straight and I got the feeling that it was about to pull, like you’re pulling a muscle, and it popped and it hurt so much.
“I had to lift and I didn’t really know what to do, because every time I applied it the pain was there.
“Of course I can’t stay off the gas, I’ve got to keep going, so it’s just mind over matter, so I just had to keep pushing.
“It was pretty excruciating for a couple of laps, but then it started to kind of…. I don’t know whether blood starts rushing to it and the adrenalin takes over but I’ve definitely got a bit of a knot in my knee, my calf.”
Hamilton’s record-breaking victory leaves him on the brink of a seventh world title with the Briton potentially able to wrap up proceedings at the Turkish Grand Prix.
“It’s just reminiscent of the beginning when I joined the team, the decision I took to join the team and what we have done since,” he said.
“I knew that we would win championships. Did I think we would win as many as we have? No. Did I think we would win this many races? Of course not.
“But it is a phenomenal time for us and the great thing is that it’s not just me that is living with the history, it’s the whole team and I think everyone acknowledges and realises how much they are part of it.”