The conflict within Lewis Hamilton over his decision to give back third place to team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the last lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix was clear.
Hamilton insisted it was “the right way to do things” but admitted that by the time he made the final call on the last lap it was “a kind of grey area” and rued: “I don’t think I’ll ever get back those three points.”
Hamilton’s internal wrangle will have been exacerbated by the knowledge that ahead of him title rival Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari team were playing things in the opposite fashion.
The German was struggling with steering that was tilted to the left at varying degrees during the race, a problem that compromised his pace.
Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was right behind him and telling the team he could go faster, but in terms that made it clear he knew he was not going to be allowed to pass.
So at the front Ferrari were focusing everything on maximising their team leader’s points haul, using Raikkonen as a buffer against the attacking Mercedes later in the race. Mercedes were giving Hamilton the chance to do the same – but in the end giving away three points from him to Bottas.
The decision to let his team-mate back past on the last lap, Hamilton said, was “more from the heart”.
“The mind is more cut-throat and ‘every point counts and this is do or die’. But my heart tells me the right thing to do is let him by,” he added.
Credit: Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer at Hungaroring