Lewis Hamilton called himself an idiot for the way he lost a position to Max Verstappen in the Portuguese Grand Prix but loved the fight he was able to have in recovering to win.
Valtteri Bottas led from pole position and caught Hamilton out at an early safety car restart, with Verstappen able to overtake around the outside into Turn 1. Hamilton admits he placed his car badly in that fight but made no other mistakes as he repassed Verstappen and then pulled a strong move on Bottas to take his second win of the season.
“I lost position, that’s what happened!” Hamilton said of the restart. “It was interesting because I was focusing naturally on Valtteri and literally just for a split-second I looked in my mirror just to see where Max was, and in that split-second, that’s when Valtteri went, so I lost out to Valtteri. So that wasn’t great.
“Then I was in Valtteri’s tow and he (Verstappen) was about to pull out, so I pulled out, and gave Max Valtteri’s tow, and I was like ‘you idiot!’ to myself.
“So then after that, being behind the two and what a great track! It really enabled us to fight close in that first stint. I think that’s really what the fans want and that’s definitely what I want from a racing point of view. This track is really great because you can take different lines and different corners, a bit like Austin. So it was really awesome.”
Hamilton took advantage of a slight mistake from Verstappen out of Turn 14 to overtake the Red Bull and then cleared Bottas, but says Sunday’s race showed how fine the margins are between the drivers at the front.
“I think none of us are under any illusions as to just how hard it is out there for us, how close the battle is, and how we are all giving absolutely everything in our day-to-day lives in order to be best prepared and deliver on the weekends. The pressure is immense between us all and I think there’s a huge amount of strength between the three of us and with the other drivers here.
“Of course, it’s always great when you have a race like today where you are able to follow and overtake and capitalize on the small margins and gaps that you have. At the same time, look at the restart — Max has been pulling absolutely everything out of the Red Bull and giving us a great run for our money. I think it’s going to be like this for the rest of the season, which I think can be incredibly exciting.”