Lewis Hamilton recovered from his gearbox penalty on Saturday to finish fourth in the Austrian Grand Prix, but on reflection felt he was too kind to Daniel Ricciardo in their late-race battle for the final podium position.
Hamilton was on a set of new Ultrasofts to finish the Grand Prix, while the Red Bull Racing RB13 of Ricciardo was on the Supersoft compound, and despite the age of the former’s tyres, was still able to use this advantage to close in on the Australian towards the finish.
On the penultimate lap, Hamilton used DRS exiting Turn 3 to pull alongside the Red Bull heading into Turn 4, but was forced to the outside and unable to capitalise on his better pace.
“I really don’t think there was much left in the car at the end of the race,” said Hamilton afterwards. “I was probably a bit too kind in my fight with Daniel – and left him too much space.
“I won’t do that again.”
Having known about the gearbox penalty that would affect his starting position since Tuesday, the Brit went into the weekend knowing he would need to limit the damage in his championship fight with Sebastian Vettel. With the Ferrari driver finishing as runner-up in Austria, Hamilton has now conceded points to his title rival for the last two races, but was still reasonably satisfied to have limited his loss to only six points.
“It’s been a difficult weekend, but I can take heart that I limited the damage to Sebastian in the points and that I went forward through the field. We’ve slipped further behind Sebastian again, but there’s a long way to go. I’ll keep battling and I’ll never give up.”
With a second race victory of the season for his Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team team-mate Valtteri Bottas, he was keen to point out that it was not only Vettel he would need to keep an eye out for in the championship standings.
“Valtteri did a great job all weekend and thoroughly deserves the win. He’s just 15 points behind me now and he’s very much in this title fight.”
Having now scored only one podium in the last four races – victory in Montreal his last – Hamilton is hoping to use his home race next weekend as a turning point to revitalise his championship challenge, an event he has won for the past three seasons.
“I’m really looking forward to Silverstone – I’ve got a few days to put this weekend behind me. I can’t wait to see the home crowd again and start with a clean slate. I hope I can use Silverstone as a springboard for the second half of my season.”