Lewis Hamilton doesn’t believe Sebastian Vettel is making excessive errors in their battles for the drivers’ championship despite his collision with Valtteri Bottas in the French Grand Prix.
Vettel was attacking Bottas into Turn 1 — behind polesitter Hamilton — but locked up and hit the rear of the Finn, damaging both the Mercedes and his own Ferrari. After a five-second time penalty, Vettel recovered to finish fifth but lost the lead in the drivers’ standings with Hamilton winning.
While Hamilton felt a five-second time penalty was not harsh enough given the fact that Vettel finished ahead of Bottas in the race, he played down the number of mistakes his rival has made after examples of costly errors last year in Baku and Singapore as well as this year’s visit to Azerbaijan.
“Honestly, I know what you’re saying but it is really a racing incident in Turn 1 and those things can happen,” Hamilton said. “We’re all going into that first corner at great speeds, it’s not always easy to… I mean, I went deep and wide because I saw them really close to me. I thought I was going to get rear-ended, to be honest, so I went quite deep.
“No, I don’t feel that he’s particularly made more mistakes than [expected]. “We’re all on the edge, we’re fighting for the World Championships. We’re not pootling around, we’re out there putting our lives on the line, putting the cars as far beyond the edge as we can in the safest manner.
“It’s not like a train track — you don’t just stay on the rails. Sometimes you can go off. We’re only human.”
Vettel’s mistake in France allowed Hamilton to open up a 14-point lead in the drivers’ championship with a comfortable win from pole position, and the Briton is hopeful of a repeat performance in Austria this weekend.
“I think Austria should be a fairly decent track. It’s been a decent track for us in the past, so I don’t see why it should be any different now. I think the car should be good there. I think the Red Bulls have been particularly quick there in the past because it’s quite a good downforce circuit, so it’ll be interesting.
“As you’re seeing, the cars… it’s great that we are close in qualifying nowadays, but positioning is everything really in qualifying, and you can’t overtake. At that track you can’t really overtake… even though you’ve got those long straights, very, very difficult to overtake. You can’t follow through Turn 1. It’s going to be about who qualifies where at that track, isn’t it?”