McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton has received some blowback from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel for passing the German while he was a lap down. Hamilton was on fresh tires, quick and being caught by his own teammate, Jenson button, who was running in third. Hamilton passed Vettel, who was running in second behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and proceeded to set his sites on Alonso. The difficulty, from Red Bull’s perspective, is that Vettel was on pace with Alonso and catching him. Hamilton’s move may have scuttled that opportunity and cost the German a place to McLaren’s Button in the process. Vettel said:
“That was not nice of Lewis. I don’t see why he was racing us,” Vettel said. “If he wants to go fast he should drop back and find a gap. It was stupid as he was a lap down.”
“If you want to go quick and you have no chance to win the race you should respect that and use common sense. I didn’t expect him to attack because I didn’t see the point, and then I was surprised when he was side by side.”
On the other hand, this is a team sport and if Hamilton, by the fate of coming out of the pits in front of Vettel, can help his teammate, Jenson button, then some feel the move was justified. That may be a tad aggressive but the team did give Hamilton a choice as race director Sam Michael explained to AUTOSPORT:
“It was completely legal,” said Michael. “He came out and he was fast. We said to him that you’ve got blue flags for Jenson.
“When you get a blue flag, you have two choices. You let the car past, or you speed up significantly.
“So we told him to speed up significantly and overtake Vettel and he did so. He didn’t hold Vettel up at all because Vettel couldn’t keep up with him. So it didn’t have any material impact on Vettel’s race and it’s completely legal.”
No there is little question that Vettel was nursing the raw emotions of a tough weekend. Suffering a penalty of 20 seconds to his results left the German in 5th place after finishing second. The late-race pass on Button was deemed to have taken place off the circuit and therefore a penalty was given. But back to the incident with Hamilton, if it were clear to Vettel that Hamilton was a hinderance, it also was obvious to race-winner Fernando Alonso who said:
“I knew that if Lewis was close enough with the DRS and trying to overtake, I had no problem to leave the space,” said Alonso. “I knew he was not in the race. We didn’t want to risk anything. For me it was a good position to have Hamilton between me and Sebastian.
“Having Hamilton there it meant Sebastian was 2.5s behind approaching the pitstop, so I tried to keep Lewis there.”
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.