Hamilton had ‘heart in mouth’ during backmarker squabble
Lewis Hamilton says he had his “heart in his mouth” as he worked his way through backmarkers in the closing stages of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
Hamilton converted his stunning pole position lap from qualifying into an important victory in Singapore to extend his championship lead over title rival Sebastian Vettel to 40 points, after the Ferrari driver could only finish third.
The Briton largely controlled proceedings throughout but came under pressure from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the closing stages when he lost a chunk of time trying to negotiate his way through backmarkers around Singapore’s narrow streets.
Getting stuck behind the squabbling pair of Romain Grosjean and Sergey Sirotkin for the best part of a lap allowed Verstappen to close in, with Hamilton forced to defend his position from the Dutchman while weaving through the traffic.
“I think I was a little bit unlucky with the traffic and these guys were moving around, it’s quite difficult to follow,” Hamilton explained after the race.
“I think Max was probably a little bit lucky in getting by some of the guys in terms of what point in the track and the guys weren’t letting me buy so jeez it was definitely close.
“My heart was definitely in my mouth for a minute but once I was clear of them I was able to put the pedal down and pull away.”
Crucially, Hamilton managed to pass Sirotkin’s Williams while defending from Verstappen at the same time heading into the heavy braking zone at Turn 10 to provide himself with some much-needed breathing space, before ultimately pulling clear to seal his seventh win of the season.
Haas driver Grosjean was handed a five-second time penalty for failing to adhere to repeated blue flags, while F1 race director Charlie Whiting personally apologised to Hamilton following the conclusion of the race.
“With the traffic I was mindful of not taking risks,” Hamilton added. “There are different drivers who you approach who have different mentalities and also when you start to get close to another driver you start losing grip, sliding around more, opportunity for mistakes.
“If you are lucky you catch them at the right time, they let you by and you don’t lose any time but every time I caught them was at an unfortunate point and I had at least half a lap to a lap behind several of them.
“Then we had that moment when they wouldn’t let me go and they were battling. Even to Turn 10, he [Sirotkin] was still flat out so I had to overtake him and I didn’t know if he was going to turn in or not.
“Max was right behind me so I had to go on the defensive. I was like ‘bruv, you aren’t going by’.”
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September 16, 2018 at 07:09PM