Lewis Hamilton says it is vital he and Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Valtteri Bottas maintain respect for one another as the 2019 title fight intensifies.

Bottas and Hamilton engaged in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle during the early stages of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, as pole-sitter Bottas fended off a flurry of attacks from Hamilton to maintain his lead.

Hamilton briefly found a way past around the outside of Luffield but Bottas fought back to reclaim the lead by diving down the inside of his teammate at Copse, before a fortuitously-timed Safety Car enabled Hamilton to leapfrog his teammate and move into a lead he never relinquished.

“It’s no secret that Valtteri wants to beat me and I want to beat him and that fighting spirit is stronger than anything, individually for all of us,” Hamilton said.

“I think it’s so vital though, to have a respect. I know how hard is it to get a pole here.

“He did a fantastic job yesterday I know how hard it is to wake up and deliver every weekend, as do these other drivers, so the respect is there between us.

“I think we want to race wheel-to-wheel and tough. When you’re racing with a team-mate it’s on a different level.”

A record sixth British GP victory for Hamilton – and his seventh win of the season - has seen him extend his championship lead over Bottas to 39 points with 11 races remaining.

Hamilton said he was enjoying the scrap so much he wanted it to continue for the entirety of the race.

“If I were racing a Ferrari, you take more risks,” he added. “Still respectful, but you can lean on them a bit more but as team-mates.

“We sit down at the beginning of the race, we talk about Turn 1 and how we’re going to respect each other, make sure we don’t collide, and even when I overtook him and he was coming back, I could have swept across the front and blocked him  – but that’s not the right thing to do.

“Ultimately it enabled him to get back past - but that’s racing. It was really fair, and it was great. Honestly I was looking forward to maybe some racing later.

“He was doing some good times so the gap was growing, in terms of me coming out maybe one second, one-and-a-half seconds to two seconds, and I was trying to keep it as little as possible before I finally stopped so that, so that when I came out, I had the advantage on a new tyre and could finally catch him up and try to get past.

“But the Safety Car came out and kind of intervened. But that was awesome.”

 

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