Lewis Hamilton explained that although letting team-mate Valtteri Bottas through on the final corner of the Hungarian Grand Prix was “really a little risky”, it was the “right way to do things”.
The Hungarian Grand Prix saw Scuderia Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen holding first and second, with Bottas and Hamilton chasing in third and fourth. With Bottas unable to catch and overtake Raikkonen, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team decided to give Hamilton a chance at second place – instructing Bottas to let Hamilton through.
Hamilton was given until the end of the race to pass and, if he was unable to, he was to give third place back to Bottas. The Brit quickly gapped his team-mate but was unable to make the all-important move on Raikkonen for second. Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was catching Bottas, making the switchover all the more perilous.
With a hefty gap between the Mercedes drivers as they crossed the line to start the final lap, many were doubting whether Hamilton would relinquish the final step of the podium (and the extra three points that came with it). Despite the increasingly small gap between the Finn and the Dutch drivers, Hamilton remained true to his word and let Bottas through on the final corner – finishing just half a second before Verstappen.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Hamilton explained his position on the race.
“I had a lot more pace than Valtteri, but at the time the radio wasn’t working so I couldn’t communicate that with the team. So I was a bit stuck behind him, but I felt that I had the pace to fight with the Ferraris.
“Then the radio started working and they gave Valtteri a few laps to catch the Ferraris, which he wasn’t able to do. Valtteri was great, and let me go. My thought process is if he lets me by and I can’t pull away from him, and can’t catch up, then I’d just let him back.
“Obviously I had a lot more pace and pulled away significantly, and had a seven-second gap to him at that point.
“It was difficult at the end to slow down. It was actually a little bit risky for me to slow down, particularly as I was around backmarkers, who were slowing down to let me by as well.
“And then I had to slow down and they were trying to overtake me, so it was really a little bit risky, to be honest. Also I knew there was a second gap between him and a Red Bull.
“I was thinking I could do the right thing and then finish fifth, it’s going to really suck. Fortunately I managed it well, and managed to do what I felt was right
“In my mind I want to win the championship the right way. I don’t know whether that will come back to bite me in the backside or not. But I said at the beginning of the year I want to win it in the right way, and I think it was the right way to do things.”