Lewis Hamilton has said he believes that reacting well to setbacks can define a Formula One driver. The world champion insisted he refused to even countenance giving up after a mistake that may have ended his race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Instead the British driver acknowledged his error, fought on and drove a stunning comeback from ninth to finish second.
Hamilton went off the track midway through the race at Imola, clipping the barriers at the Tosa hairpin. He struggled to get the car moving again but eventually did so and charged himself with making the best of his situation during a brief lull when the race had been stopped. After the restart, he moved up to second four laps from the end, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking the win.
“I remember sitting there looking at the barrier and I refused to think that the race was over, I refused to believe that the race was done,” he said. “I could have just tuned the power off and got out but I am grateful I didn’t. [I was] trying to switch the anger and turn it into positive energy so I could go out and race forwards, there are so many lessons to be learned.
“When you experience whatever form of adversity in terms of challenges and mishaps, barriers or hurdles you find its always more satisfying when you overcome them. It’s not mistakes that define us, it’s not how you fall but how you get back up.”
George Russell accused Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of trying to kill him following their 200mph crash in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
Williams' driver Russell was attempting to pass Bottas around the outside of the Finn's Mercedes on the high-speed run to the opening corner in Imola on lap 32. The British driver dipped his front-right tyre onto the damp grass, causing him to lose control of his machine and spear into the side of Bottas' Mercedes. Both men ended up in the wall with significant damage sustained to their respective cars.
A furious Russell, 23, yelled over the radio: "What the fuck was he doing? Honestly. Is he a fucking prick or what?"
Russell, a member of the Mercedes junior academy and hopeful of a promotion from Williams to replace Bottas as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate next year, left the cockpit of his damaged machine before racing over to confront the Finn. Russell leaned into the Mercedes and slapped Bottas' crash helmet. Bottas raised his middle finger in response.
The race was suspended for 30 minutes to clean up the streams of debris from the accident.
"I asked him if he was trying to kill us both," said Russell. "We're going incredibly fast and we know the conditions. In his eyes he's not really fighting for anything. Ninth for him is nothing, but for us it is everything. I'm going for absolutely everything. I have never had a crash at the end of the straight when we are absolutely flat out.
"We have all seen the dangers of motorsport, and to be honest, I would have reacted the same if I was battling for the win, for ninth or for last because I felt it was unnecessary and avoidable.
"Your heart stops when you crash at over 200mph. You don't know what is going to happen. My anger at the time is that I thought he had put us both in harm's way and it was an incredibly scary incident, but fortunately we both walked away without any battle scars. However, it could have been very different." PA Media
Hamilton and Verstappen have now shared one win and one second place each but the world champion leads the title race by one point by virtue of clocking the fastest lap in Imola. He admitted that had he gone out of the race because of his error, it would have been potentially severely damaging to his hopes of winning an eighth title.
“Without doubt getting back to second, getting these points will be very valuable through the season,” he said. “If I had lost 25 points it would have been very hard to recover. Based on the fact that Red Bull for the first time for some time they have an incredibly fast car, a championship-winning car, faster than us this weekend. We have a real close battle which we love, that it is a close battle.”