27 July 2015
F1 Hungarian Grand Prix: Hamilton: I had to tell myself to calm down...
"It wasn't deliberate, but it was my fault. He took a tight line around the outside and I just lost grip, ran out of road and understeered into him...," F1 world champion says of Ricciardo clash.
Lewis Hamilton has absolved Red Bull rival Daniel Ricciardo of any blame in their mid-race clash that undid all the work the Briton had put in recovering from a scrappy opening to the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton ultimately grabbed sixth place after what he described as a 'bad day at the office' and was rewarded – for want of a better word – when Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg suffered a late-race puncture following his own clash with Ricciardo, dropping to eighth place in the Silver Arrows worst result of the season.
“That was a very tough afternoon,” Hamilton – who ran soft-soft-medium-soft on tyre strategy – admitted, “The team did everything right and the car clearly had the pace - I just had a very bad day at the office. It was one of the worst races I think I've had and I don't really have any explanation for it at the moment. All I can do is apologise to the team and work hard to make amends at the next race.
Between laps one and 69, the reigning world champion endured a fraught afternoon, dropping from a pole position that underlined his previous dominance of the weekend to fourth on the road after a poor getaway. That was followed by a trip across the gravel while duelling with Rosberg into the chicane that dropped the #44 Mercedes back to tenth, and Hamilton was made to fight for every position he reclaimed before the safety car appeared on lap 42.
Although he took the opportunity to pit, a poor restart from Hamilton allowed Ricciardo to get a run on him into the first corner and, with both drivers determined to fight it out, contact left both cars with damage. Hamilton was also slapped with a drive-thru' penalty, dropping him back down the order, before further late-race incident allowed him to slink back into sixth.
“My start wasn't ideal and the Ferraris were really quick off the line, so suddenly I was under attack from both sides,” the Briton recalled, “It was tight with Nico later in the lap, where I locked up and went off, and then, of course, there was the incident with Daniel.
“It wasn't deliberate, but it was my fault. He took a tight line around the outside and I just lost grip, ran out of road and understeered into him. That meant a drive-thru', which dropped me right back again after all that work to make it back through. From there, I just had to tell myself to calm down and not give up so I could fight back for some points. You could see in that phase that the pace of the car was really strong - the pace was really there all weekend - but I just made too many mistakes today.”
With Rosberg's puncture coming not long after he looked like he may be able to challenge Sebastian Vettel for the win, Hamilton admitted that he was fortunate to leave Budapest with a mildly enhanced points lead heading into F1's summer break.
“In the end, it's damage limitation in terms of points for the championship,” he concurred, “I just need to take the positives into the summer and bounce back in Spa.”
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