Lewis Hamilton said he was “elated” as Mercedes team-mate George Russell beat him to victory in Brazil; watch the final race of the 2022 F1 season live from Abu Dhabi next weekend with all sessions live on Sky Sports F1
Last Updated: 13/11/22 11:11pm
Lewis Hamilton insisted he is “not concerned” about racing Max Verstappen in future, despite a collision which may have cost him the race win in Sao Paulo.
The two rivals went wheel-to-wheel into the second corner at Interlagos following a Safety Car restart early in Sunday’s race, but collided and both were forced off the track, seeing Hamilton drop from second to eighth while Verstappen needed to pit for a new front wing.
The Dutchman was given a five-second penalty for causing the collision with Hamilton claiming “that was no racing incident” over the team radio.
“What can I say? You know how it is with Max,” said Hamilton when asked about the incident immediately after finishing second behind team-mate George Russell, but he later insisted he is not worried about battling with his long-time rival again in future.
“I am not concerned,” he told the Sao Paulo GP post-race press conference.
“I think it is natural when you have success and the numbers on your chest that you become a bit of a target but it’s OK.
“It isn’t anything I haven’t dealt with before.”
Verstappen, who recovered to finish sixth, later said the five-second punishment was meaningless because his Red Bull lacked the pace to compete for the win at Interlagos – and he accused the Mercedes driver of being unwilling to race.
He even argued Hamilton would have beaten Russell to the victory if he had left more room and avoided the contact.
“I went round the outside and I really felt he was not going to leave space, so I just went for it,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.
“He didn’t leave me space so I knew we were going to get together.
“It cost him the race win. For me, it gave me five seconds.
“It wouldn’t have mattered for my race because we’re just way too slow, but it’s just a shame because I thought we could race quite well together.
“Clearly the intention was not there to race.”
Hamilton: Honestly, I am elated
Hamilton recovered from the incident to help Mercedes earn their first one-two finish of the season, an outcome he described as “wonderful”.
Next weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi represents the final chance in 2022 for the seven-time world champion to preserve his proud record of winning a race in every season of his career, but he insisted he had no regrets as Russell beat him to the top of the podium in Brazil.
“Honestly, I feel really good,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“We’ve worked so hard this year. To be where we are, to be fighting for front row, to be fighting for podiums and to get a one-two, honestly I am elated for the whole team.
“Who knows [if Mercedes can win in Abu Dhabi]? We didn’t expect to be as quick as we have been this weekend. It’s just incredible, the turnaround.
“It’s really all down to the incredible men and women back at the factory, who have been working so hard all year long, never giving up and continuing to push.
“Huge congratulations to George. This is a wonderful win for him – a little bit more straightforward of a day for him than for me.
“Still I’m grateful I could get back up there and get the win for the team.”
Analysis: Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok on the Hamilton-Verstappen collision
“As they come through turn one, Max was momentarily ahead of Hamilton, but Hamilton is on the inside line, doing the shorter distance and a slightly quicker speed because Max is offline, Lewis is half a car length in front.
“I think what the stewards have done is seen turn two and turn one as separate corners. They judged that Max forced Lewis off the track at turn two. As they drop down the hill, Max has come through with a great amount of speed and it’s ended up with both cars off the track.
“Max has one car’s width but he is on a very tight trajectory for turn two. Even if Lewis wasn’t there, Max would’ve had to go through turn two at a much lower speed than he would have if he was on the conventional racing line.
“As they come down the hill, there could have been an opportunity for Lewis to leave Max a bit more space, but the reality is in his situation is that was always a gap that was closing.
“Lewis turned into the corner and I think he was expecting Max to back out of it. Max has come through with significantly more speed than Lewis expected him to and they make contact and both drivers have ended up quite some way off the track.
“I think the stewards have judged it as Max forcing Lewis off the track. I think that is probably fair.”