Lewis Hamilton’s Austrian Grand Prix didn’t turn out the way he wanted. First he received a 3 place grip penalty just minutes before the race and later in the race he received a five second penalty for contact with Alex Albon.
Albon’s move and the resulting contact was very similar to what happened between the two drivers in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, but Hamilton insists the two incidents happened under different circumstances.
“Well firstly I have a huge amount of respect for Alex,” said Hamilton.
“I think he’s a super talented young man, and I don’t have any bad blood or bad feelings towards him whatsoever.
“In Brazil, he saw me coming straight to him. That was for me wholeheartedly my mistake and my problem and I tried to face it with dignity. I think today was, in my opinion a racing incident.
“He was on a much better tyre. I entered the corner committed in blocking – obviously I was defending the position. I took the corner as normal, I had quite a lot of lock on to get round the corner.
“The track drops away when you go through that corner. So a lot of people understeer through there. However, I didn’t get back on the power, I just continued to decrease in my speed, and he jumped on the power, being that he had so much grip.
“He still had like a car’s width to the left of him. And ultimately, we touched. I think it’s unfortunate that we collided, and I wouldn’t want to ever collide with anybody.
“I do think it was unfortunate, but I have to respect the decision that the stewards ended up taking, there’s nothing you can say otherwise about it.”
Hamilton acknowledged that at first he did think it was his fault, but changed his opinion after he viewed the replay.
“Before I’d seen the incident I did apologise to Alex, in an interview. Just because in the heat of the moment, you don’t always have the viewpoints of everything, and I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, and obviously then I went to watch the replay and I think it was a racing incident, as I said.”
The five second penalty cost Hamilton a podium position as he was demoted from P2 to P4. However, he might have squeezed ahead of Lando Norris and got P3 had he been in a position to push in the final stages of the race.
Both Mercedes were under instructions to nurse their cars due to possible gearbox issues and Bottas, who was leading the race at the time, was driving slower than usual. People are now questioning if Mercedes should have instructed the Finn to let Hamilton through, so he could push and close the gap to Norris. Some even question if Bottas was holding up Hamilton on purpose, but the Briton shoots down any such theory.
“I know Valtteri better than a lot of other people bearing in mind I’ve worked so closely with him over these past few years,” explains Hamilton.
“That’s not something that was on my mind, and something that I would think he would ever do. I know he wouldn’t do something like that.
“He’s a pure racer who wants to win through pure merit, and I believe that even when he says that, you know, he doesn’t need to say that.”
What are your thoughts, do you think there was any calculation on Bottas’ part?