Lewis Hamilton doesn’t believe he deserved a penalty for his collision with Alex Albon in the Austrian Grand Prix, but says the timing of the first safety car cost him his best shot of victory.
Albon was on new soft tires at the end of the race and tried to overtake Hamilton — on old hard tires — around the outside of Turn 4. The pair touched on exit, with Hamilton tapping Albon into a spin and picking up a five-second time penalty in much the same way he had done in Brazil towards the end of last season.
“First of all I have a huge amount of respect for Alex — he’s a super talented young man, I don’t have any bad blood or bad feelings towards him whatsoever,” Hamilton said. “In Brazil you saw I came straight to him, that was wholeheartedly my mistake and my problem and tried to face it with dignity.
“I think today was in my opinion a racing incident. He was on a much better tire, I entered the corner, committed in blocking, but obviously I was defending the position. I took the corner as normal, I had quite a lot of lock on to get around the corner. The track drops away as you go through the corner so a lot of people understeer through there; however I didn’t get on the power, I needed to decrease my speed, and he jumped on the power. He still had like a car’s width to the left of him and ultimately we touched.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we collided — I wouldn’t want to ever collide with anybody. But I have to respect the decision the stewards did take because I don’t think you can say otherwise about it. And I did apologize, before I’d seen the incident I’d apologized to Alex in an interview just because in the heat of the moment you don’t always have the viewpoints of everything and I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, and then I watched the replay and I think it was a racing incident as I said.”
While Hamilton was eventually classified fourth behind Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris having failed to pass Valtteri Bottas, he says his hopes of beating his teammate mainly hinged on a different strategy as he closed in on soft tires earlier in the race.
“The stint was going very well and I think we planned — I don’t remember which lap the (first) safety car came out but it was unfortunate for sure because I was closing down Valtteri during that period, and it was just at the time when he was really starting to fall off the cliff with his tires, and I could see the gain that I was having each lap. It was getting quite exciting because I needed to get him as close as possible, then the safety car came out and obviously that put a spanner in the works. But that’s racing.”