Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team gave themselves a lot of work to do during Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, with the Briton ultimately finishing third on the road, which became second after Sebastian Vettel was disqualified.
Starting from pole position, Hamilton took the lead at the start while chaos ensued behind, and he led the field until the race was red flagged to clear the debris from the track.
However, on the restart, Hamilton was the only driver to start the race on the track and on the intermediate tyres as others pitted, and this left him at the back of the field when he pitted at the end of the lap for dry tyres.
Hamilton drove superbly to recover, but ultimately he had too much to do to deny Esteban Ocon and the Alpine F1 Team their maiden Formula 1 victories.
“First of all, I want to say a quick congratulations to the Alpine Team and to Esteban – he’s been a shining star for some time now so it’s been a long time coming and I’m really, really happy for him,” said Hamilton.
“It’s great to see Aston Martin up there with their best result so far and I know there’s more to come from them. We’ve had an amazing crowd this weekend and I’m grateful for the support.”
Hamilton admits it was crazy to be the only driver on the grid for the restart after the rest of the field pitted for dry-weather tyres, and as a result it was then a race of recovery until the chequered flag.
“Today was definitely tough, it’s crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid at the start, but these things happen in an unpredictable race, and we will learn any lessons that need to be learnt,” said Hamilton.
“I gave it everything today and I had nothing left at the end. I came into this weekend not knowing how we would perform and considering the circumstances today, I’ll take P3!”
“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up” – Valtteri Bottas
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas was the main cause of the first corner crash at the original start, with the Finn being handed a five-place grid penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix as a result.
Bottas made a poor start and was falling down the order, only to lock his brakes and hit the back of Lando Norris, who in turn went into the side of Max Verstappen. Bottas then hit the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez, with his race then ending with a lot of damage to his Mercedes.
The Finn took full responsibility for the incident and apologies to both Norris and Pérez, but he knows he will have it all to do after the summer break after being handed the penalty by the stewards.
“I had a poor start with lots of wheelspin off the line, lost a couple of places and then into turn one, I was right on the gearbox of Lando and locked the wheels,” said Bottas. “I misjudged the braking point – it’s always difficult starting a race in those conditions, you’re always ‘guesstimating’ grip levels and today I got it wrong.
“I’ve spoken to Lando and Checo to apologise, it was my bad today and sometimes you have to hold your hands up.”