Malaysian Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton commented that he reluctantly didn’t put up much of a fight against Max Verstappen’s race-winning overtake.
Hamilton was able to capitalise on the misfortunes of championship rival Sebastian Vettel – who started the race from the back of the grid after technical problems in qualifying – by taking second place at Sepang.
After leading the race from pole position, he came under pressure from Red Bull’s Verstappen, who took advantage of the ‘derating’ Mercedes to take the lead of the race with a move into turn one.
From there, Verstappen was able to build a lead, control the race and take victory.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton said that he didn’t fight Verstappen too hard in order to concentrate on scoring big points towards in the championship race.
“Max did a great job, going into the race we knew that the Ferrari’s had something like eight tenths [advantage] on us and the Red Bulls had four tenths on us, and it [the gap] was exactly that. They had at least four tenths on me,” said Hamilton.
“Naturally I think…I wanted to put up a bigger fight to Max. In my heart, I would’ve put a bigger fight on, but I had to think long-term and short-term, so I didn’t make it too difficult for him to get by, and that’s difficult for me because I’m a fighter.
At the end of the day, I needed to bag the points. They were quicker than us, so if it [Verstappen’s overtake] wasn’t then, then it would’ve been at another point.
“We did have some problems with derating quite a lot so it made it easier for him to get close. Underlining it, we still have problems with this car and it was magnified here…the last two races particularly…so I’m hoping in the next two races it’s not.”
With Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finishing the race in fourth place, Hamilton extended his championship lead to 34 points.