During the Hungarian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton asked his Mercedes team to let him get by his teammate Valtteri Bottas and attack the Ferrari duo for the lead of the race.
The team agreed provided the Briton would relinquish the position should his attempt come to naught. First they gave him five laps to get the job done, then added another five for his efforts, but when he could not find a way past the Ferrari duo he did as agreed and allowed Bottas through to take third place and with it give up three valuable points.
After the race Hamilton explained, “It’s tough in the championship but I’m a man of my word. I did say that if I can’t overtake them I would let him back through. Slowing down seven seconds was tough and I was nervous of losing a place to Verstappen but fortunately I didn’t.”
It was clear that overtaking for cars with similar power characteristics was virtually impossible at Hungaroring this year, and even though Hamilton had strong pace and was quick to close down the Reds and drop Bottas, getting by Kimi Raikkonen in second – let alone leader Sebastian Vettel – was not going to happen.
Hamilton said, “I don’t know why Ferrari were slow. I thought they were worried about the tyres not going the distance and so were slow but would speed up later but they didn’t.”
“I had all this pace but I was stuck behind Valtteri and couldn’t tell the team I had all this speed to go catch them up. I don’t know how many laps I was behind but my tyres took a lot of beating.”
“Once I did get by, I did everything I could until I had to step behind a back marker and went on some rubber on the outside of the track and the tyres started to drop after that.”
Adding to the frustration for Hamilton was the fact that Mercedes’ car-to-pit communications system glitched on the day, “It wasn’t perfect [losing radio] but it came back in the end. We managed it the best way we could.”
Hamilton sportingly sacrificed three valuable points, which could be the difference between winning the tight fought championship battle or not. He leaves Hungary trailing Vettel by 14 points with nine rounds still to run in the world championship, had he held position the gap would have been 11 points.