BRITAIN’S Lewis Hamilton insisted he was perfectly within his rights not to adhere to Mercedes’ team orders and allow title rival Nico Rosberg to pass him during yesterday’s Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.
The 29-year-old fought back from a pit lane start and a first-lap spin to record a third-place finish behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo, who took the chequered flag.
Hamilton refused to move over with just over 20 laps to go despite receiving instruction to give up track position to his team-mate Rosberg, who finished in fourth position, with the intention to maximise his total race time.
Rosberg repeatedly complained on the radio, asking why Hamilton was not letting him past, with the Englishman defiant and saying “Tell him to get closer.”
Had he chosen to allow Rosberg to pass instead of defending his position, the German would inevitably have extended his championship lead, with Hamilton unrepentant on the matter.
“I would have lost points to Nico if I had let him past when they asked me, he would have beaten me,” said Hamilton.
“Ultimately, I would have lost points so I’m grateful I made the right decision for myself. At the end of the day I was racing for myself, I wasn’t racing for him.”
The final 10 laps featured a three-way battle for the lead with Rosberg closing fast after a late stop, which ultimately ended his debate with Hamilton, before Ricciardo passed Alonso for victory with three laps remaining.
The result reduced Hamilton’s deficit to Rosberg in the driver’s championship to just 11 points ahead of next month’s Belgian Grand Prix, with Ricciardo third.