24 November 2013
Brazilian Grand Prix: Hamilton baffled by penalty call
Lewis Hamilton says he will have to look at replays to know exactly what happened in his clash with Valtteri Bottas at Interlagos.
Lewis Hamilton took ninth place in the 2013 F1 season finale to help Mercedes secure second overall in the constructors' championship, but felt that a podium may have been on the cards had it not been for a mid-race penalty.
The Briton made a strong start to the race, nosing down the inside of Mark Webber into turn one to claim third on the road, but quickly succumbed to the Australian's advances and dropped back to fourth place, where he remained for the first half of the event.
With different drivers on different strategies, however, Hamilton was still on ageing rubber as Valtteri Bottas, on fresh tyres, attempted to unlap himself from the Mercedes. Although surprised by the Finn, Hamilton thought he had given the rookie enough room, but the two cars came together, leaving the Williams on the sidelines with damage to its rear left corner and Hamilton limping back to the pits with a puncture.
The Mercedes also suffered damage to its floor as it recovered to pit-lane, but worse was to come for Hamilton as he was subsequently handed a drive-thru' penalty after the stewards found him at fault for the incident. The punishment initially dropped him out of the points, before he fought back to claim ninth place at the expense of Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo.
“From my side, it was a tough race today,” Hamilton explained, “I don't know what happened exactly with Valtteri and will have to have a look at the replay. I thought that I had moved to the left, he outbraked me and then we touched - but it happened so quickly and it was obviously judged that I did something wrong.
“I was having a good race until that point in fourth place, and a podium might have been possible as I was closing on Fernando [Alonso]. That's why I'm so disappointed with my own race….”
Team principal Ross Brawn admitted that the accident could have been prevented with better communication, but praised Hamilton for his performance in taking a damaged car back into the top ten.
“We have to take that one on the chin as we should have kept Lewis better informed of just how quickly the Williams was closing, even though he was a lap down,” Brawn noted, “But he then drove strongly after the penalty, especially considering his floor was damaged by the flailing tyre.”
The two points Hamilton secured for ninth, allied to team-mate Nico Rosberg's ten for fifth place, were enough to ensure that Mercedes remained ahead of Ferrari in the close-fought race for second overall in the constructors' championship.
“Of course I'm delighted for the team,” he noted, “That result means so much to everyone and I'm so grateful to have been a part of it this year. They have done an incredible job this year and really deserve this result. It's the reward for what I know has been many years of hard work and my thoughts are with everyone here at the track and back at our factories at Brackley and Brixworth. We've got so much to look forward to next season, so I'll put today behind me quickly and focus on what should be a great year in 2014.”
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