3 April 2016
F1 Bahrain GP: Hamilton in damage limitation mode after Bottas clash
Lewis Hamilton hauled his hobbled Mercedes to a podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but could do nothing to deny team-mate Nico Rosberg stretching his F1 points lead.
Lewis Hamilton admitted that he was happy just to get to the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix and limit the gains made by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg after being involved in a first corner incident with Valtteri Bottas.
While he was unaware of his assailant's identity, Hamilton said he considered the clash to be a 'racing incident', and was relieved to come out of it with a car that was still running, despite losing bodywork in the contact with the Williams. After initial concerns, the world champion also discovered that there was still some pace in the W07, despite estimates that missing pieces on its right-hand side were costing anything up to a second a lap.
"I lost a lot of performance on the car in the crash," Hamilton confirmed, having hedged his bets, unsuccessfully, during the race by running a set of the medium Pirellis mid-race, "but I'm glad I could keep going and still have some performance in the car. I couldn't keep up with Kimi [Raikkonen] - I was fighting, but the rear end was nowhere - so I did what I could with it and, at the end, tried to keep the tyres in case I got an opportunity with the safety car, but it didn't come."
Beaten to turn one by team-mate Rosberg, despite starting on pole, Hamilton said that he wasn't to upset at his getaway, and could not give too much detail about the incident that dropped him back to seventh at the end of the opening lap.
"I don't know what happened at the start, but I don't think there was any particular issue," he confirmed, "I had a good getaway by myself. I'm not sure exactly what happened [at turn one] - I turned in and whoever was on my inside was in my blindspot, so I didn't see them, but it was a racing incident."
Refusing to believe that his two lacklustre starts were unconnected, Hamilton insisted that there was still a long way to go in this 21-race season and was pleased to have kept Rosberg's gains to a minimum.
"Two separate incidents, both equally painful, although today was maybe more so," he conceded, "Nevertheless, we still managed to get back up there and at least get some points so, again, damage limitation. Congratulations to Nico - it was an easy race for him, I would assume, but I'm glad it wasn't more points if I couldn't have finished the race."
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