Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Hamilton denies holding Vettel up in Australia

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton dismissed Sebastian Vettel’s claim the Mercedes driver deliberately slowed and held him up during the Australian Grand Prix.

Vettel said Hamilton slowed down because he was “probably bored and not happy because he lost the start”. However Hamilton, who picked up floor damage early in the race, said he was managing his tyres and Vettel should have done the same.

“I’ve never planned to hold anybody up,” said Hamilton. “I was just doing my own race.

“Often it’s easy to point blame at other people in moments where things don’t work so well so I’m sure he probably has a different opinion now. It doesn’t really make a difference to me, I just focused on my job.

“I wasn’t thinking at all about his race, naturally [I wanted] to keep him behind, but I knew I had a long way to go and he stopped a lap before me so I knew that we’d be in a similar boat towards the end. I was thinking a bit more long-term so I could defend to up-and-coming towards the end of the race which I’m not sure he really thought of because his tyres went off quite drastically at the end.”

Hamilton revealed his team weren’t sure why his pace dropped during the race as well.

“My engineers had no idea that I was saving the tyres,” he said. “They thought that I was just off the pace, which I’m sure a lot of the public thought.

“But I was saving tyres, saving fuel, making sure that I had enough to push at the end, which is all that I needed to do to finish where I was. I couldn’t do any more to get further ahead and I didn’t need to do any less.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Hamilton denies holding Vettel up in Australia”

  1. Modern F1 of driving style for saving tyre, saving fuel, saving engine, saving chassis/floor of nonsense… might as well don’t race…

    1. no you dont like the style. it is still a race. this is why joe saward speaks so lowly of the f1 fan base. albeit, he is a curmudgeon and the angriest uncle ever known.

    2. @papaya Doing that requires skill as well, though. Easier said than done.

      1. But sooooo boring

    3. papaya, well, it was the way that the sport operated throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s, given the strict fuel tank sizes meant that it was impossible to go flat out for the whole race – yet we still idolise many drivers from that era.

  2. I can’t see where Vettel said such thing

    1. Was he ever that close to Hamilton that he could say he was being held up?

    2. But if he did say that, I wager that he was smiling as he did!

    3. He said it two weeks ago just after the last race. Media recycling old stories here.

      1. @f1osaurus again, I can’t see him saying that Hamilton hold him up. Slowing down is one thing, holding up another. Or maybe I’m loosing something in translation.

        1. Read between the lines.

        2. @m-bagattini He doesn’t have to literally state the bloody obvious though.

          He said that Hamilton slowed down and Vettel was right behind so …. he was also being “slowed down” as a coinsequence

          1. @f1osaurus I’m sorry, but yes: he does have to literally say one thing to be stated in a title like in this article. Saying that Hamilton didn’t push because he was “bored” and stating that Hamilton slowed down to block are two entirely different things.

          2. @m-bagattini Ehm no, “fortunately” he doesn’t. It’s abundantly clear that Vettel implied that he was being slowed down by Hamilton’s supposed “boredom”. Especially since Vettel was moaning about it like he was.

            And yes “block” and “slowed” are miles apart in meaning. So “unfortunately” you are looking for the wrong text.

  3. It seems to me the difficulty in overtaking on that track affected a lot of drivers at Melbourne. Even so, if Vettel had managed to pass Hamilton at the start of the race I suspect Hamilton would have overtaken him fairly quickly, but even if he couldn’t, I think he’d have still ended up in front via the pit stops. Hamilton was almost guaranteed a podium finish.

  4. I think VET didn’t imply HAM was holding him up; but that he was close to HAM because HAM wasn’t pushing at all.

    1. he said that hamilton was bored or something like that.
      he did got close and did not understand what hamilton was doing with that pace.

      another lesson for vettel, perhaps.

  5. “I’ve never planned to hold anybody up,” said Hamilton.

    Rosberg has a story to tell.

    1. @alexde yes because of course he was talking about the whole of his career instead of just the race which the question was actually about.

  6. It’s been clear over the last weeks that a lot of people didn’t get this. All this blabla about the floor causing a 20 second delay.

    Reality is that Hamilton knew that only P2 was possible after the first corner (and even more so when the floor damage occurred) and he made sure he got that P2 with as little wear on his engine as possible (plus managing his tyres).

    1. @f1osaurus Perhaps that’s because after the race, Hamilton said “I was planning to just stay close behind, two, three seconds. Then obviously I had the issue with the car and the gap started to slowly increase.”

      1. @petebaldwin If that’s the case then it truly shows how shortsighted they are. Because Hamilton was talking about that happening on lap 4! Like I said, it only explains part of why he knew he had to give up on going for P1.

        Made even more clear by the fact that Hamilton said immediately after that, that he had to manage his tires.

  7. I was thinking a bit more long-term so I could defend to up-and-coming towards the end of the race which I’m not sure he really thought of because his tyres went off quite drastically at the end.

    Touché. Vettel was indeed caught by Verstappen and would have been passed by Leclerc if team orders hadn’t been applied. While Hamilton still had the tyres to keep Max at bay. This was actually a smart race by Hamilton. He realized early on he wouldn’t catch Bottas and mapped out the rest of the race accordingly.

  8. Vettel said “probably” which means he accepts there may well have been other reasons for Lewis backing off.

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