Magnanimous Lewis Hamilton gave up a place to Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas despite losing significant ground to title rival Sebastian Vettel in a frustrating Hungarian Grand Prix for the Briton today.
Hamilton let Bottas pass and take third place in the dying stages in Budapest, having promised to return the favour if the Finn moved aside to let him attack the Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
The three-time world champion proved unable to dislodge Raikkonen and get at Vettel, who won and extended his advantage over Hamilton to 14 points despite suffering from a steering problem.
“It’s tough in a championship but I’m a man of my word,” Hamilton said. “Slowing down seven seconds was tough and I was nervous about losing a place to [Max] Verstappen but fortunately I didn’t.”
Hamilton was also hampered by technical problems, with a radio fault preventing him from asking for Bottas to move aside earlier and depriving him of more time to circumvent Vettel’s shield Raikkonen.
“It wasn’t perfect but it came back in the end,” he added of the radio. “I think we managed it the best way we could. I was stuck behind Valtteri and I couldn’t tell the team that I had all this pace so let me catch them up. Once I did get by I gave it everything I could.”
While Mercedes insisted on treating Hamilton and Bottas as equals as they both remain in title contention, Ferrari maximised the increase in Vettel’s lead by asking Raikkonen to play a supporting role.
“I am over the moon,” said the German four-time drivers’ champion. “It was a really difficult race. I had my hands full from three to four laps after the safety car. The steering started to go sideways and get worse. It wasn’t easy but it didn’t do a favour to Kimi who could obviously go faster.”
Max Verstappen was a close second behind Hamilton, having earlier angered Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by colliding with the Australian on the first lap, ending his race.
Fernando Alonso was sixth for McLaren, recording the day’s fastest lap on his final circuit of the Hungaroring.