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Hamilton dismisses talk of gamesmanship and tactics

NEWS STORY
01/08/2021

Lewis Hamilton has dismissed claims that he deliberately sought to slow the Red Bulls ahead of their final runs in Q3.

As the field headed out for the final run, Hamilton was released ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and much to the excitement of the commentator drove slowly down the pitlane while looking in his mirrors.

He led the pair out on to the track and then headed off only to slow again further around the circuit.

Though he and Verstappen made it to the line in time to complete another flying lap, Perez didn't and therefore failed to improve.

At session end, as the drivers climbed from their cars for the on-track interviews, sections of the crowd began to boo.

Of course, whether they were booing for what they saw as a deliberate attempt to compromise the Red Bulls or the after effects of Silverstone we don't know, but whatever fits the media narrative, right?

Perez subsequently admitted that he thought he had "plenty of margin" to make it to the flag".

"Unfortunately, that wasn't the case," he added, "and that meant that I basically lost my final attempt. I think I had a good amount of time left in the car. We did some adjustments, and here is a place where if you get one corner right, there's just plenty of lap time in it, because there's so many corners.

"It's a big shame. At the end, we have a good starting position for tomorrow. But yeah, we knew Mercedes was going to be very strong."

Meanwhile there were no hard feelings from team boss, Christian Horner, who described Hamilton's antics as "gamesmanship".

"Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank," he said, "and then obviously he's just backing things up, up, up, and he doesn't want to give obviously our cars a clean run. But it's his right to do that. He's got the track position. We haven't got a major issue."

However, in the subsequent press conference, when asked about his apparent lack of pace when heading out, Hamilton replied: "We were one of the last of the cars out. I know that ahead of those guys, ahead of Valtteri and whoever was ahead of him, would all bunch up towards the end of the lap so I tried to make as big a gap as possible and then even still with that, at the end of the lap we still had to all back off and wait for everyone to get going.

"So just trying to make sure that I had the best gap ahead of me but ultimately I think none of us probably had the best tyre prep for that lap because everyone was going slow."

Pushed on the gamesmanship angle, Hamilton was told that Romain Grosjean had tweeted that it was "not pretty" and questioned whether it was a "legitimate tactic".

"It's so silly, man," said the world champion. "I mean everyone was going slow. Did you not watch everybody else?

"I don't understand," he continued. "Do you think I could have gone quicker and then been just close to Valtteri? Everyone was doing a slow out lap so it was no different to any other lap.

"Of course each time we're going out we're trying to prepare the tyres and keep them cooler because they get so hot throughout the lap so I'm not playing any tactics, I don't need to play any tactics man. I know what I'm doing in the car and I'm fast enough, I don't need to add tactics so...

"Those that are making the comments clearly don't know anything about the job that we're doing here, which is probably why they're not driving here," he added, possibly alluding to Grosjean's comment.

In fact, the Frenchman subsequently posted a tweet revealing that on the lap in question, Hamilton was quicker than his two previous out-laps.

Of course, other than the fact that Red Bull could have released its drivers before Hamilton, both Verstappen and Perez could have overtaken the Mercedes further into the lap.

But again, that doesn’t fit the narrative.

Check out our Sunday gallery from the Hungaroring, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Lapps, 01/08/2021 12:18

"Yes, the ‘cruising’ portion of Lewis’ out lap, while obvious gamesmanship, was within regulations. What wasn’t, was the sudden sharp brake lockup on the final corner before the start. It was obviously designed to unsettle those behind and would seem to be outside some regulations."

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