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Near-miracle win by Hamilton in German GP

HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AFP) – Lewis Hamilton said he’d “never been in a race like this” after his stunning victory in a spectacular rain-hit German Grand Prix which saw title rival Sebastian Vettel crash out of contention.

Three days after confirmation of his blockbuster two-year contract extension, the defending four-time world champion delivered a near-miracle for Mercedes as he and team-mate Valtteri Bottas notched the team’s first one-two finish on German soil.

The Briton was subject to a lengthy steward’s investigation for swerving out of the pit entry lane when his team suddenly aborted a tyre change while the safety car was out. In a statement stewards said there was clearly an infringement, but decided only to issue a reprimand.

Hamilton started 14th on the grid after a catastrophic qualifying on Saturday, but a combination of his skill, speed and tactical acumen enabled him to profit from what seemed to be divine intervention when the heavens opened.

”It’s obviously very difficult from that position and highly unlikely but you’ve got to believe,” said Hamilton. ”I did a long prayer before the race. I wanted to stay collected, stay calm and the team did such a great job today.

”When it rained, I knew I would have a good position,” he said. ”You never knew what was going to happen after the safety car.”

”For those who didn’t know me before, now you do.”

”It’s great to be here on Mercedes home ground and to get the one-two. It’s just a tremendous day for us – I’ve never had a race like this.

”After racing for so many years, you never know where you’re going to have a race as good as your best. This was up there with them.”

It was Hamilton’s fourth win this year, his 44th for Mercedes and the 66th of his career, leap-frogging him from eight points behind German Vettel of Ferrari to 17 points ahead.