Lewis Hamilton says a combination of luck and a strong personal response helped him recover from a mistake that put him a lap down to finish second in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen had taken the lead in wet conditions at the start but polesitter Hamilton closed in before the pit stops to switch to slick tires. The championship leader was then trying to catch Verstappen again as they both lapped traffic but slid off the track at Tosa after leaving the dry line to pass George Russell, and damaged his front wing against the barrier.
The mistake? Rare from Hamilton 🤯
The recovery? Classy, determined, and skilful as ever 😎#ImolaGP 🇮🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/sIZcfpT528
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 18, 2021
“There was only one dry line and I guess I was in a bit too much of a hurry to get by everyone,” Hamilton said. “Coming to the inside, I could see it was wet and I was trying to stop but the thing wouldn’t stop and it sent me off. A bit unfortunate but I’m really, really grateful that we got to get going again and to get some points for the team was really important today.
“I think just really grateful for the lesson. I didn’t get away the best at the start — it was very tricky conditions at the start. But we’re only human, so just that bit of a mistake was one to learn from. I’m just grateful I could get going again and get back into the race. It’s not how you fall; it’s how you get up. Really awesome to get back to second. I had a good battle with Lando (Norris) towards the end. I definitely didn’t know I would be here when I was facing that barrier.
Hamilton spent a long time in the gravel trap and had to reverse out, but says he never considered giving up.
“In life, when you experience whatever form of adversity in terms of challenges or mistakes and mishaps or whatever barriers you find that you have to get over or hurdles, it’s always more satisfying when you overcome them,” he said. “It’s not the mistakes that define you — again it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.
“I think definitely in that moment, for me… you know I don’t make too many mistakes and it was gutting in that position but I honestly feel like these things happen for a reason and the others did a fantastic job. But I remember just sitting there, looking at the barrier and I refused to think that the race was over. I refused to believe that the race was done.
“I could have obviously just turned the car off and got out but I’m grateful that I didn’t. I’m grateful that I did do a reverse and then after that just kind of getting out the car (after the subsequent red flag) and trying to switch the anger and turn it into positive energy so that I could get back in and race forwards. It’s an amazing lesson to be sent and experience.”
The incident left Hamilton a lap down, but a big collision between Russell and Valtteri Bottas soon after led to the red flag when he was able to unlap himself and duly climb back through the field to finish second.
“I knew I had been in the gravel for minutes so I had no idea how far behind I would be. When I found out that was I was a lap down, I didn’t know what I was going to be able to do.
“But it was such tricky conditions out there, it was inevitable something was going to happen at some stage further up in the race — everyone switching over to the slick tires and you could say there was a really fortunate moment in the race that allowed us to get back on the same lap and then back into the race so again, just really grateful for it.”
"We live and we learn"#ImolaGP 🇮🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/w0USU4lwAc
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 18, 2021