The 27-year-old British driver pitted twice and then overturned a 14-second deficit with some ice-cool driving to claim a magnificent victory under immense pressure.
“I think the team did a great job with the pit stops and the strategy,” said Hamilton, who became the seventh different race winner in as many Grands Prix this season.
“I was very, very surprised that I was able to look after the tyres and push at the times I needed to push. I was surprised in the first stint. I knew Fernando [Alonso] was the one to beat. He has generally great pace on long runs.
“I was not able to do one stop, I think I would have fallen back, so I think a two-stop was just right.”
“Of course we were aware of that. We went into the race knowing we would be doing two stops and when the guys were behind me I had a feeling that Fernando would be doing one stop. I knew I had to make a gap while looking after the tyres, even though Fernando was picking his pace up. It was one of the best stints I had.”
In an exciting race, Hamilton went from third to first in the final laps, overtaking two-time world champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
A late surge from Lotus driver Romain Grosjean and Sauber’s Sergio Perez saw the pair come second and third respectively.
But the race was all about Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel.
At first it seemed that McLaren had read the situation wrong but it soon became apparent that the 2008 world champion was going to become the seventh different winner in race number seven of the 2012 season.
Neither Red Bull or Ferrari went for the two-stop strategy that Hamilton’s McLaren believed they would. During the race the British driver asked his pit crew: “Are you sure they’re not doing a one-stop?” His engineer was adamant: “Yes, we’re sure.”
Vettel did make a late second stop but by this point it was too late.
Despite misreading their rivals it was McLaren who had the last laugh after last year’s champion Vettel was passed on lap 62 and then Alonso just two laps later on 64 to see Hamilton drive home for a sensational win in a thrilling climax.
Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Jenson Button endured a torrid race, where he had won so sensationally last year, and finished a disappointing 16th. The 32-year-old is now 43 points off the lead in the drivers’ championship.
The next race is the European Grand Prix in Valencia in a fortnight’s time, with only nine points separating the top four drivers – Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Mark Webber.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1hr 32mins 29.586secs
2 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus F1 Team 1:32:32.099
3 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:32:34.846
4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:32:36.881
5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:32:42.997
6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:32:43.428
7 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:32:44.671
8 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 1:32:45.153
9 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:32:54.018
10 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:32:54.858
11 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:33:07.279
12 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:33:15.822
13 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:33:16.638
14 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:33:34.061
15 Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap
16 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren at 1 lap
17 Bruno Senna (Bra) Williams at 1 lap
18 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham at 1 lap
19 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Caterham at 1 lap
20 Charles Pic (Fra) Marussia at 3 laps
21 Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia 56 laps completed
22 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 43 laps completed
23 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT-F1 24 laps completed
24 Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 22 laps completed
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BIOGRAPHY: Eric Bailly