Tuesday 23 January 2018

Vettel takes win as Lewis gives up third

Sebastian Vettel throws the throphy in the air after his triumph in Hungary. Photo: Szilard Koszticsak /MTI via AP
Sebastian Vettel throws the throphy in the air after his triumph in Hungary. Photo: Szilard Koszticsak /MTI via AP

Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton let his heart rule his head in a remarkable moment of sportsmanship at yesterday's Hungarian Grand Prix which could ultimately cost him the Formula One championship.

As Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag at the Hungaroring to claim his fourth victory of the season, his chief title rival was selflessly surrendering the final spot on the podium to Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas had earlier been ordered aside so Hamilton could take the challenge to Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

But Hamilton, who said he would give the place back to Bottas should he fail in his pursuit of the Ferrari duo, was true to his word, and pulled aside on the final corner of the final lap.

With one eye on the championship race, Hamilton could have been forgiven for holding position.

He would have been 11 points behind Vettel had he stayed in third, but now heads into the sport's summer shutdown 14 points adrift of his rival.

Hamilton said. "The heart told me that the right thing to do was to let Valtteri past. I want to win the championship the right way, and I don't know whether that will come back to bite me on the backside or not. I said at the beginning of the year, I want to win it the right way. Today was the right way.

"It hopefully shows that I am a man of my word, and that I am a team player."

Of that there can be no denying. Ferrari, as they historically do, have thrown their total backing behind one driver. Vettel is their main man, but Mercedes, much like their lead driver, oppose such preferential treatment.

"It cost us three points and it could cost us the championship and we are perfectly conscious of that," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said.

"Sometimes doing it the right way and standing by your values is tough."

Hamilton started fourth on the grid and he was down to sixth by the opening corner after he was gobbled up by both Red Bull drivers.

Damage

But Max Verstappen ran wide at turn one. He rejoined the circuit alongside Daniel Ricciardo and at the left-handed turn two went in too hot and thudded into his Red Bull team-mate and took him out of the race.

The safety car was deployed to deal with Ricciardo's stricken vehicle, and Verstappen, who escaped the incident without any damage, was handed a 10-second penalty and two points on his racing licence.

Four laps later, the safety car pulled in and Vettel soared off into the distance, with Raikkonen in second, and Bottas a distant third.

The leaders all pitted around half distance, and it was then that Vettel, who had appeared in complete control, complained of a steering problem.

That allowed the chasing pack to close up, and Hamilton was afforded his chance for glory - but it was one which would prove fruitless. (©The Daily Telegraph)

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