Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton admits he had the opportunity to block rival Max Verstappen from passing on the inside at the Spanish GP race start, but missed it.
Verstappen had the favorable start in Sunday’s Grand Prix, providing the Dutchman with the opportunity to get in the slipstream of Hamilton and dive down the inside of the seven-time champion, who started on pole.
Verstappen made use of this opportunity, diving down the inside of turn one to take an early lead in the race. Hamilton admits he could have prevented this by blocking the inside line, but explains that he decided against this so as to avoid inhibiting his own teammate.
“So, I know Valtteri was obviously starting in third and the goal is to work as a team,” said Hamilton. “So I stayed to the left. I think in hindsight there could have been a moment, looking back, that when Max moved in behind me for a second, I could have pulled across and sealed the job there – but I didn’t.”
The Brit was forced wide by Verstappen, who was aggressive in his efforts to get past the polesitter. Hamilton says he could have responded with aggression, but chose not to as he deemed it unnecessary, looking at the larger picture of getting back.
“As we went into Turn One, I just made sure I gave as much space as I could to Max,” said Hamilton. “In my mind, it’s always a marathon, not a sprint, so I’m just always thinking the long game and sure, you could be a little bit more aggressive. Do I need to? Well, I’m in the position that I’m in because I don’t get too aggressive when I don’t need to be.”
Verstappen says less downforce helped him to pass Hamilton into turn one. “I, of course, ran a little bit less wing, I think, compared to Mercedes and, of course, that helped a bit, to get alongside Lewis and then I went for it in Turn 1.
“Overall, I tried everything I could and even took the lead at Turn 1 but from there we were just lacking a bit of pace to Mercedes. Of course we wanted to win but I cannot feel too disappointed as I did everything I could out there and maximized the opportunities.”
Here’s how F1 Spanish GP panned out