BUDAPEST, Hungary, Jul 30 – Lewis Hamilton showed sportsmanship is alive and well on Sunday when, despite his need for points in the world championship, he slowed down to give his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas a podium finish in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The three-time world champion was given third place during the race when Finn Bottas, obeying a team request, allowed him by to launch an attack on the two Ferraris ahead.
The Englishman promised that if he failed to pass a Ferrari he would give back the position and in the end he was as good as his word, at the cost of three championship points as he came home fourth.
He is now 14 points adrift of world championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, instead of the 11 he might have been if he had taken third, while Bottas is only 19 points further back.
“It is tough in the championship, but I am a man of my word – slowing down seven seconds was tough and I was worried about Max Verstappen,” said Hamilton.
Dutchman Verstappen finished a rampant fifth for Red Bull and was closing the gap on the two Mercedes in the closing laps.
Hamilton and team-mate Bottas drove for long periods of the race without any radio communications – another costly factor because, with better planning, Hamilton may have begun his attack earlier than he did and succeeded.
“I was pushing,” he said. “I had all this pace and I was stuck behind Valtteri Bottas and I couldn’t tell the team I had all this pace!
“Once I got by I gave everything I could until I got stuck behind a backmarker and got on some dirt.
“It wasn’t perfect, but it came back in the end. We managed it in the best way we could.”
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff supported the decision.
“We took the risk,” he said. “It is important to stick by your word. Maybe someone will one day say ‘Budapest is where we lost the championship… Who knows?
“At the moment, this is the way we want to continue. Valtteri moved over because we asked him to move over — and then Lewis moved over at the end. Fair play to both of them.”