Lewis Hamilton admits he would have made the same move Sebastian Vettel made when rejoining the track in the Canadian Grand Prix, but doesn’t believe that excuses a penalty.
Race leader Vettel ran wide at Turn 3 and cut across the grass, fighting to regain control as he returned to the track and squeezing Hamilton towards the wall on the exit of Turn 4. Hamilton braked to avoid a collision and Vettel was handed a five-second time penalty that dropped him to second place in the final results.
“I watched the replays, it’s obviously very close,” Hamilton said. “What I can say is that if I was in the lead and made a mistake and went wide, probably would have done the same thing, because it happens so quick and you’re just trying to hold your position. But, when I say I’d do the same, I would have tried to squeeze him too, and that’s ultimately what happened. My opinion on that has not shifted.
“Regarding the rules, say you didn’t have that rule, I would have kept it lit and we would have crashed, so one way or not it was going to go badly. I don’t feel any particular way about it. Seb drove a great race – except for his little off, he did a great job.
“Ferrari was so strong this weekend and a real formidable force. I think we were very, very fortunate to be in the battle with him, as they genuinely could have had a one-two if they had a front row for example, but luckily I was able to stop it.”
Despite expecting he would have reacted in the same way had he made the error, Hamilton says the regulations still state such a move is illegal.
“Well the thing is, from a driver’s point of view you know how it goes,” he said. “It’s different when you’re watching as a viewer. But as a driver things go wrong and it’s ‘oh, shoot’, and you try and squeeze so that you don’t lose a position. It’s a natural instinct that you have.
“You’re not going to go ‘oh, actually I’m going to pull to the left and let buddy go by’. So he did block me, unfortunately he went off-track, and the way the rules are written that’s how it’s described. It is what it is.”