Lewis Hamilton has made it clear that he was surprised that Mercedes asked him to move over for Nico Rosberg in Hungary.
The pair came together on track while running different strategies, with the German on soft tyres and planning on making one more stop and Hamilton committed to running to the end on mediums. The team decided that Rosberg would benefit by being let past, but Hamilton refused to comply. He ultimately beat Rosberg to the flag by a tiny margin.
After the race team chiefs Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff said they understood why he hadn’t followed the instruction, but the saga has inevitably created some tension in the camp, and for Hamilton it had clearly taking the edge off a superb drive from the pitlane to the podium.
“You know, I was in the same race as him,” said Hamilton. “Just because he had one more stop than me doesn’t mean I wasn’t in the same race as him. And naturally if I’d have let him past, he would have had the opportunity to pull away, and when he does pit, he’s going to come back and overtake me, so I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that, to be able to better his position.
“But to be honest, he didn’t get close enough to overtake but I was never going to lift off and lost ground to Fernando or Daniel to enable him to have a better race. So that was a bit strange. But we’ve got a long way to go, moving forwards still and, as I said, thankfully I’m still in that battle, so, I hope we can come away stronger.”
Regarding his own race, he said: “I was just pushing as hard as I could to see if I could get as high as I could. Obviously this is damage limitation. On one hand I’m very grateful to have been able to get through with all the difficulties I’ve had this weekend, obviously yesterday and the first lap.
“I can’t believe how things have gone, but to be able to come back through – the safety cars obviously helped quite a lot, but naturally I look at the fact that I had the pace this weekend and I lost quite a lot of opportunistic points. Still, we’re there in the fight, fortunately I stayed ahead of my team mate, which means I’m still there or thereabouts.”
Despite the controversy, Hamilton said the result was still a big boost.
“I can’t express to you the pain that you feel when you have issues such as the issues that I’ve had in the last couple of races. It’s very, very difficult to swallow, and, to come back the next day and get the right balance between not attacking too much, and not making mistakes, all these different things. Obviously when you’re at the back you’re having to push way past the limit than perhaps you would off pole position or in the top five.
“So the fact that I’m managed to come back through obviously is a showing of just how great this car is and how great this team is – but ultimately we’ve worked, I’ve worked hard for it so it feels probably better than perhaps a win, gliding from the lead. It feels definitely much more satisfying when you come back through. And, as I said, to be ahead and to win the fight is really encouraging.”