Hamilton defends Vettel from negative press

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

“It is a measure of Lewis Hamilton’s total mastery of the track that Sebastian Vettel has been reduced to the type of self-damaging, gung-ho gamble that practically gift-wrapped the world title for the Briton here on Sunday,” said the Daily Mail.

“It was his seventh mistake of an increasingly erratic campaign which has unravelled since the summer break.” Said The Daily Telegraph.

“another spectacular example of just how Vettel crumbles under the pressure”, describing the move as “ridiculous” said The Sun.

“Vettel only has himself to blame for that mistake,” said Paul Di Resta. “He’s throwing the championship away at exactly the same point it all went wrong last year.”

As we discussed on yesterday’s Japanese Grand Prix review podcast, Vettel’s difficulties this year are not as simple as saying he’s making errors and throwing away a title. There is more at play here and to suggest that, marginalizes just how epic the effort from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have been in 2018.

Sebastian’s move on Verstappen on Sunday was, perhaps, not the best place to attempt a pass on a driver like Max but time was essential and Seb couldn’t trundle around behind Max for 13 more laps waiting for him to serve his penalty. Hi fight wasn’t with Max, he had to get up front to take on Lewis. Getting past Max had to happen and it had to happen quickly.

With all of the criticism from the press, Lewis Hamilton has come to the defense of Sebastian on Instagram.

“I feel the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian. You simply cannot imagine how hard it is to do what we do at our level, for any athlete at the top of their game that is. It is to be expected that being humans we will make mistakes but it is how we get through them that counts.”

Lewis, of all people, knows what it feels like trying to get something out of a car that isn’t quite capable of performing at the level your rivals are performing. You push the envelope, take risks and try to produce results that are beyond the car’s begrudging temperament.

As I said on the podcast, I’m a Ferrari fan but I am certainly not trying to be an apologist for Vettel. There have been moments of frustration that have led to errors but in the end, I think he’s trying very hard to produce results that the car has little interest in delivering. The expectations are high and one might look at Alonso’s time there as well as Kimi’s to see that Ferrari haven’t been in rude health for some time—since 2007 to be exact—and Seb is trying hard (perhaps too hard at times) to reverse the team’s course.

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Vettel has had some bad luck and this year Lewis is the better driver. Verstappen isn’t called Crashstappen for nothing. He cost Seb this race. Yeah it was kind of a racing incident but Vettel was racing not commuting to work. He had to finish on the podium and hopefully #1. Verstappen closed the door hard on him and caused their crash. He didn’t have to. Verstappen had just crashed into Kimi and his only comment was Kimi should have waited for him to go by after he re-entered the track. Same old Max: just as reckless as he was… Read more »


It is getting to the point where drivers need to be unafraid to collide with Max – he’s clearly the common denominator, and will not change his behaviour unless he starts racking up the DNF’s. Unfortunately for Seb, he was probably the only guy on the grid who couldn’t afford to tangle with him on Sunday.

I expect Red Bull will take a big step backwards next year. I think it will have every bit as much to do with having Max as their #1 as the Honda engine; though I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more about the latter.


I agree that time was of the essence for Vettel to get past Max, however as Paul mentioned during the podcast, he knew he was passing Max and Max generally doesn’t give you anything and more than likely will take some also. I think his cock-up was that he didn’t take an adequate look at the risk/reward scenario. Sure he couldn’t wait 13 laps to pass Max, but he ended up spending the next 26 laps to get 2 positions behind where he was on lap 8 and didn’t improve from there. My point is, from my nice comfy couch,… Read more »


Over the past year, I’ve become convinced that Vettel is a master of driving backwards: Singapore Turn 5 last year and Japan over Spoon.


A classy act on Hamilton’s part.




Two things: One, everything you write above I agree with perhaps from a different perspective… first Lewis is smart enough to build up the drama of two great drivers – especially when he’s on top. Earlier in the year and at Baku last year that was hardly the case (I still maintain Lewis brake-checked Seb). Lewis is clever, talented, and VERY media savvy. Two: In what universe does a F1 top driver have to take into consideration the bully-boy tactics of a young, not that experienced, driver? What? We now have to apologize and take into account that Maldonado was… Read more »


1: Uh.. Telemetry proved he didn’t brake-check, Seb. Otherwise I completely agree.
2: That’s racing. Not sure if you have any racing experience, Peter, but in my admittedly very limited racing experience, knowing the other drivers personalities is really helpful and important. Knowing who you can bully, who’s likely to bully you, who’s dangerous in a braking zone (cough Magnussen cough) — that’s a big part of race craft.


So a long time ago, when Seb first came into F1, I was skeptical. We’d only ever seen him win from the front, and I questioned whether he really had genuine skill. Fast, yes, but his racecraft I wasn’t convinced of — and I thought he was someone that would crack under pressure like he did in Canada 2011 (IMO). Fast forward a bit and I’m questioning my skepticism, surely Vettel has proved after all this time that he really is one of the best. We’ve seen him have great drives from the back, he can pass. But now I’m… Read more »


The problem is that Vettel does have the occasional brain fart. I wouldn’t have made that charge around Spoon at that speed to pass Verstappen. Vettel did and paid the price for it. All that’s happening is that Vettel is human, regardless of his four WDC titles.

As for Max, we should remind him that “reckless driving” is a misdemeanor in Texas punishable by a $200 fine, 30 days in a county jail (Travis County, in this case), or both (relatively less than a state Class C Misdemeanor).

Tom Firth

Its mind games by Hamilton, well played.

I think Ferrari’s management and Vettel would be more concerned by the Italian press when you fail to win a title for the Italian team than the opinion of the British press however and I imagine they aren’t holding back on the criticism.