Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Monza, 2019

If it wasn’t for the championship we’d have crashed – Hamilton

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he wouldn’t have backed out of a collision with Charles Leclerc during the Italian Grand Prix if the championship wasn’t on the line.

The pair almost tangled when Leclerc squeezed Hamilton to the edge of the track approaching the Roggia chicane. Hamilton drove onto the kerb and grass to avoid contact, and had to cut across the run-off area.

Afterwards Hamilton said if he’d already won the championship before the race, “I wouldn’t have moved”, when Leclerc squeezed him. “And we would have collided.”

The Mercedes driver arrived in Italy with a 65-point lead in the title contest and is the clear favourite to clinch the championship this year.

Hamilton told his team Leclerc “pushed me off” following the incident. But speaking afterwards he insisted there was “no lack of respect” between them.

“We don’t have a problem,” said Hamilton. “I congratulated him when I got straight out of the car.

I think Charles is one of the most respectful drivers. This is today the first time I’ve really come wheel-to-wheel with him. When you arrive at a new driver you learn how they approach different scenarios and maybe position your car differently, maybe I’ll do a better job next time.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the incident showed Hamilton’s “sense of self-preservation” given the championship situation.

“You’ve seen in the last years that the young ones that came into Formula 1 they’re maybe a little bit more aggressive and these moves can end up in the wall if not one gives up. Today the driver that goes for the drivers’ world championship bailed out of it and saved Charles and saved himself.

“Lewis perfectly knew what he was doing, he saved it, he didn’t lose any parts in that incident. He could have equally decided ‘no, I’m not going to let this happen’ and put the two cars out.”

Leclerc was shown the black-and-white warning flag for the incident, but Wolff believes the situation may have been different had the pair collided.

“The interesting thing is what would have been the penalty if it would have ended in Lewis losing a front wing or both cars being in the wall.”

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77 comments on “If it wasn’t for the championship we’d have crashed – Hamilton”

  1. From the earlier Wolff interview

    I have so many problems in my life to sort out that I don’t want to have Michael Masi and the FIA’s problems, because this is another problem they have! We want to see hard racing but how far does the leniency go? You could have given a penalty for both incidents – the one pushing Lewis off and the other one being a bit feisty.

    I do have to agree, and it’s indeed why the FIA have a tough job: when is ‘let them race’ turning into ‘let them endanger the other’, and when is it just great to see. For some, maybe when a crash is avoided and the ‘right’ guy wins, but that’s clearly not a sustainable standard.

    I think yesterday was great to see, and because Hamilton was anyway already so far ahead in the WDC (with neither Ferrari really within touching distance anymore), like in Canada, he could be the sensible one, but it won’t always be that way. Of course, in Austria Leclerc gave way, and otherwise it might have been an accident, and he ‘learned’ from that which gave us yesterday.

    As long as the top drivers not only learn they can be more aggressive, but also to bide their time when the shoe is on the other foot, it will go right and give great racing. So, with Hamilton’s experience, Leclerc and Verstappen being smart, I have good hope (while Verstappen possibly wasn’t as sensible as he might have been in Spa, last year show he learned how that works), also because Albon, Norris and Sainz seem up to it, while Hulk and Ricciardo, Raikkonen already were too (usually!), and Perez is often smart.

    1. I quite agree with everything you say, because these infringements are always unique and hard to always judge.
      I am against any unnecessary penalties, as the FIA had embarrassingly given in the not so distant past, but there must be a degree of severity applied to such incidents. The speed both cars are driving when a driver forces the other off track and unnecessarily so, should determine there severity of any admonishment.
      The Sainz – Albon incident was somewhat edgy but Albon had plenty of time to realise he was getting into a bad situation, plenty of run off and the speeds where slightly slower than at the end of a relatively long straight, besides, corners are difficult to take as there are established lines which when compromised can affect sometimes the stability of the vehicles themselves, so stewards are often lenient for most corner incidents when a driver takes a line and forces another off track.
      I honestly would not have wanted a penalty for Leclerc because the story of him winning the race triumphs over other sentiments generated by his overall racing conduct. but there also must be more consistency from the stewards. I am almost certain if it was Maldonado who did as much, he would have received a 5 seconds stop go, either driving as Sainz or Leclerc.

  2. Off topic – Watching Toto and the Mercedes team’s reaction to Valtteri’s lack of killer instinct chasing down Charles on fresher rubber, I’m sure they were thinking what most other Mercedes fans were thinking too: We should have gone with Ocon. Ocon cant be worse than Valtteri.

    This particular race showed exactly why Lewis is a 5 times world Champion. And there are still some people that make excuses for Valtteri and the likes of Seb. The best drivers adapt to the car, good drivers hope the car adapts to them.

    1. You do have to keep in mind that Bottas had to catch Hamilton and Leclerc first, taking plenty of tyrelife out of his mediums. Combine that with hitting the dirty air with tyres that were not so good any more and I can understand his struggling to keep up. Then again, he did make a few mistakes that ruined his chances of an overtake.

      1. @kaiie
        How can you compare that to Lewis’s stint. Pitted before Charles and pretty much glued to his gear box until his mistake. That would have damaged his tyres more than Valtteri chasing behind in clean air. only reason Valtteri caught up was cos of the battle ahead of him. Wasnt like he was doing quali laps. He’s just not good enough. Hardly got DRS when he was close and made too many mistakes in a few laps.

        I really want him to do well against Lewis but boy…

        1. Both Mercedes drivers ran out of tyres more than Leclerc, even granted that Bottas was less affected due to pitting later.

          It’s not like Bottas didn’t have the pace, anyway. He closed a 3-4s gap until he was right behind Leclerc, then went slightly too hard into one corner, lost a second or so, and didn’t have time to get it back and try again.

          It’s also worth noting that Hamilton couldn’t pass either. After Leclerc’s stop, fresh warm mediums were clearly better tyres than fresh, colder hards. Later on, it’s much more arguable whether the extra wear on the mediums was offsetting the initial extra grip over the hards.

          End of the day, Monza is all about power. As long as you still have enough traction to accelerate onto the straights, the handful of corners won’t lose you too much time unless your tyres are completely with out, and maybe not even then.

          1. Seems like everyone is forgetting the fact that Charles was over the limit with his defending when Lewis was behind, else it would have been a Merc win. Valtteri did not even come close to worry the Ferrari

  3. Lol, all the toys are coming out of the pram now.

    Classic Hamilton really, this is why he’ll never be in the hall of greats.

    1. @joshgeake
      How original. Who’s the keyholder for the hall time greats?

    2. Lewis sensibly preserved his machinery and got points that he may need to win a sixth championship, more than anyone else except Schumacher, and you think that attitude somehow shows that he’s not one of the greats?


    3. Toys coming out of the pram? He’s made a factual statement, if he hadn’t taken avoiding action they would have made contact and had that contact resulted in damage then Hamilton may have risked his sixth world title. Interesting you say he won’t make the hall of greats for the minor crime of stating the obvious, which sinless drivers make up your hall of greats?

    4. Off you go back to Twitter, troll.

    5. Sorry to break this to you but he’s already in it. Look up the list of most successful drivers ever Hamilton is second on championships and wins (for now) and the most successful qualifier ever.

      He’s never not won a race in a season, and he’s considered one of if not the greatest of all time by anyone who actually matters, a list that doesn’t include you.

    6. Lol, all the toys are coming out of the pram now.

      1. Why is it only the children on here that come out with that expression?

        1. why it is only little brains ask this same question.

    7. I believe he already has earned his place in this mythical hall, you dont win 5 titles by being mediocre or good.

      1. Judging by the performances of a driver in a certain red car, it does appear that even mediocre drivers, given the right machinery can win 4 world championships? :0

    8. You don’t have a clue. A great driver is determined by how well they perform on track not by how your interviews go . This isn’t reality TV it’s auto racing. . Show me someone who says this man doesn’t do the job better than everyone on the grid year after year and I’ll show you someone who is in denial.

    9. Such painfully obvious trolling. You need to learn from KenM

    10. Think you’ll find he has firmly cemented his place in said “hall”. His record ALONE makes that a certainty but by all means… have your tantrum.

    11. Poor trolling @joshgeake)


  4. Boooooooooo!

  5. Thank God he didn’t race A.Senna, otherwise all that idolatry saga would have backfired really ugly.

    1. Senna would have thrashed him every time!

      1. Opinions a like …..holes. Everyone has one they all spout ….
        What factors make you certain your spouting is worth considering?

      2. You mean like Senna thrashed Prost?

  6. Lewis seems to forget the duel he had with a not very know driver, who were on a poor car, at this time, in Monza.
    A certain Mickael S.
    On a Mercedes, if i remember well, Monza 2011 …


      Yup those up and coming young drivers, and their car placement. Hamilton will know for next time.

      1. @jureo … indeed! and nice grass outside the parabolica :)

  7. Hang on a second, last week the fans didn’t appreciate the risks in his ultra dangerous nerf into the barriers in Spa practice.

    This week “if the title wasn’t on the line”, he’d have had a deliberate crash.


    1. He’d have deliberately crashed? Where’s that in what he said? So if he doesn’t take to the grass when Leclerc steers into him; it’s Ham who would have deliberately crashed?

      1. He wouldn’t have avoided an evidently avoidable collision. Isn’t that intentional? Isn’t that what he said?

    2. “deliberate crash”???
      Taking trolling to new level

      1. Choosing not to avoid an avoidable collision is a deliberate act.

        1. Chris, even an “avoidable collision” must be provoked by someone. And that one is not the one who could “avoided” it, but the one who “provoked” it.
          I think it’s fair as it is. But we can change it, if it suits your better.

          1. Please don’t patronise me. It doesn’t matter who provoked it, if you choose to crash rather than avoid, that is a deliberate act. It’s not my opinion, it’s an indisputable fact.

          2. If someone steps into your path in the street, do you clatter into them because it’s “their fault” or step to the side?

          3. Wrong. It really matters who provokes it! Period!
            That’s why you have regulations, to differentiate who’s the offender and who’s the victim.
            And yes, if someone choose to clatter in another and something happens to the latter, yes, they won’t say that he could avoided it.

  8. I’d hope most drivers would bail from that situation, championship or not, because holding your line in that position would always be quite dangerous due to the potential for interlocking wheels at relatively high speed. I did wonder a little later what the outcome of that incident would have been if it had been… say, Perez vs Ocon last year in Force Indias. Or, to perhaps unfairly label two drivers as particularly uncompromising, Magnussen vs Verstappen.

    I imagine anyone who’d betted on a Safety Car would be collecting their winnings today.

  9. Leclerc drove a fantastic race and it’s a well earned win. He pushed right up to the limits of what would be allowed to keep a faster car behind him.

    Any complaint about this belongs to the rule makers and enforcers who permitted what probably should have been a penalty to instead be an acceptable defence. The drivers and teams will always skirt right up to what they can get away, anything less hands an advantage to teams and drivers who are more various cautious.

    1. Blast the lack of an edit feature!

    2. @philipgb

      Unfortunately I think Hamilton is try to do with bluster what he failed to do on the track. He’ll have to crash them next time.

      1. Never mind. A 6th WDC will soften any blows.
        Lewis has been nothing but gracious in defeat yet you, and others like you, still find fault. Meh….. You crack on. Let’s see what you have to say over the next 5 races.

        1. Gracious in defeat?! Congratulating the winner when the interviewer puts the mic in his face, yet trying to imply after the show ended that the win is tainted is not gracious at all. I have a really hard time remembering when HAM was gracious… for real… when defeated. He still owes BOT 1 win from last year, BTW.

          1. He paid that back in Monza this year, gave Bottas a gimme and Bottas threw it away

  10. This whole business of leaving a car’s width on the outside has great intentions. Promise of wheel to wheel racing, overtakes on the outside etc, but in practice, whoever is on the outside gets pushed off the track.

    1. Depends on the situation. In today’s case with Leclerc and Hamilton, usually a penalty would be applied for pushing someone off in the breaking zone – perhaps now the precedent is set that the first offence will be a black and white flag (essentially, a free pass). However, on the exit of the corner if the racing line takes you to the outside edge of the track, then the driver on the inside is allowed to hold his line and push the other driver off if he is still there.

      1. Yeah why is this allowed on corner exit? Imagine the racing we would have if this was also not allowed?

        In any case the new precedent is then once you can push out a driver second time penalty. What then if it is the only chance? With this tire supplier one chance is often the only chance you are gonna get?

        In any case brilliant by Charles and also sporting of Lewis to congratulate him. I hazard a bet they will meet again and Lewis will adjust his racing accordingly, maybe he’ll check Championship standing and realize it is not on the line. But perhaps it is not on the line because Hamilton does every race with championship in mind. Best driver currently for bringing home points.

        1. It’s allowed because the speeds are much lower, the cars are more stable and every driver knows that the forces take a car to the outside no matter what line you took, therefore it’s much, much safer and more predictable as opposed to moving under braking where the cars are at their most unstable and least able to avoid a collision and cars have to be deliberately overridden from their want to plough straight to remove grip in order to change your line – a deliberate and unnatural act and as such, unpredictable

  11. “If it wasn’t for the championship we’d have crashed”: like in spain 2016

    1. No nothing like Spain actually.

      If you actually re watch that incident, there was no contact at moment Rosberg forced him off, because Hamilton took to the grass precisely to avoid contact, they only actually crashed because he was sliding sideways on the grass.

      1. It will fall on deaf ears I’m afraid. Any sniff of an opportunity to denigrate Lewis is gleefully accepted by these “Nice” fellows.

  12. Wait wait wait wait wait wait, hold on a minute-
    the Championship is on the line????
    First i’ve heard of it since Barcelona

    1. Sure. What if Lewis broke a leg in a crash? Poof goes WDC #6.

    2. @mrboerns

      Well its taken me to scroll this far down to get to the first comment pointing out! This is exactly what I was going to say! What championship? Its been over since before the summer break.

      This is why, at times, I get annoyed with Toto and Lewis. The championship is all but sewn up, they have to know this. I understand how a competitive mind works, but there are somethings that must stay within the bounds of reality. I really don’t understand why they are so “upset” at not winning this race. Take the second place and keep you 6th World Championship folks.

      I think they just need to accept that Charles drove a brilliant race, baring that one move under braking. I still thing that Lewis getting “squeezed” was just fine. Even if Charles had left him a few inches extra, would Lewis have made the corner?

  13. I think Lewis Hamilton is the best driver of his generation, much better than Alonso and much more regular than Vettel (who had only a few good years).
    Still, I think this kind of complaining is not good for him or for the sport. He can’t complain of the lack of sportsmanship of the fans booing and a few hours later have himself lack of sportsmanship. This weekend, he lost pole on Saturday and complained that Leclerc out-timed him. On Sunday he complained that Leclerc push him off track. Hamilton will won the 6th title this year, and can aim for the 7th next season, he doesn’t need this “If I lost it means the others cheated” kind of attitude.

    Also, Mercedes is not in F1 to win. Mercedes is in F1 to help them sell cars, winning is just a way of doing so, but if the presence of Mercedes in F1 begins to be portrayed by the public and the press in a negative way (even winning), Mercedes could begin to pull off the sport (Kind of like Sky in cycling: having a negative effect on the brand despite winning everything).

    1. Oh… what if SKY pulled out of F1? I could watch races again with the sound on.

      1. Sky do no commentary streams on the red button you know! I’ve been using them for years, much better!

    2. I still think Alonso is a better race driver than Hamilton.

      1. No kidding.

      2. if Alonzo was better than Hamilton he could still be in F1 and we saw him thrashed by rookie Hamilton in 2007 anyway.

      3. Even 12 years later it’s still hard to debate Hamilton Vs Alonso in this forum.
        I believe Hamilton is better than Alonso. That does not mean that Alonso is a bad driver. I simply think Hamilton is in the same level of Schumacher, Senna, Prost and Alonso is in the same level as other champions: Hakkinen, Piquet, Vettel, etc. Not bad, but not as good.
        Also, Alonso was far from being trashed by rookie Hamilton in 2007, they were very leveled, same number of victories and same number of points.

        1. Thanks for acknowledging Alonso is not a bad driver.

      4. :D Stats suggest Hamilton is a much much better race driver than Alonso. By a factor of 2-3.

        Alonso is good at waving the chequered flag, Hamilton is good at reaching it first.

        Even yesterday in comparison to Bottas look how much more Hamilton accomplished on the track before his tires gave way. If there is a chink in his armor that is Quali right now, and having his emotional downturns.

        But since 2016 he had it easy.

        1. Stats don’t tell the whole story. HAM was very lucky indeed to sign Mercedes, otherwise he could have been very well just a… 1-time champion! (Could you even think about that?!) HAM is marginally better than ALO. Saying HAM is much betteror something like that is a big exaggeration. ALO is better than BOT, no doubt. BOT is a tier2 driver, lacking consistency and bite. Yesterday’s race was another example. He may be untouchable in a certain race, but he’s mediocre in the next 5.

          1. Try to use “if” about M. Schummi and come again.
            There’s no if in motorsport and in sport in general. Hamilton is 5 time WC, almost 6. He’s 12 years in F1 and won in every single year. I don’t think you can find other driver in that situation.
            Besides, He’s contending in almost every race, from the last 5 years. That’s quite an achievment, don’t you think?

          2. Stats don’t tell the whole story? Maybe, but they will sure stand the test of time better than your opinion.

        2. Stats? You tell me about stats after the race vettel had? Stats say vettel > alonso, common sense says hamilton = alonso >>>>>>> vettel!

  14. I think if Hamilton said “Merry Christmas” the childish trolls would still be carrying on. Sigh.

    1. Adub Smallblcok
      9th September 2019, 15:06


  15. Damn, if we want to police everything a driver says, we are going to have some real boring interviews. Almost like the mandatory comments about the upcoming track “one of my favorites, has some good corners, you can attack” yada, yada, yada.

  16. Shut up Hamilton pleas, you’re an exceptional driver, the best of your generation, but you can’t say stupid things like this.

    1. I think the fact that he has, proves that he can

    2. @jorge-lardone Not only did he say it. He’s 100% correct too.

      If Hamilton gets taken out by Leclerc he pretty much gifts his closest rival in the championship 25 points.

      It’s exactly the lesson that Vettel should have understood in 2018 and he would have walked away with an easy WDC. Or even 2017.

  17. johnandtonic (@)
    10th September 2019, 7:24

    Senna also promoted crashing back in the day. A low point in his career from my POV. To hear similar remarks from HAM after the events of the past 2 weeks seems ridiculous. Can only conclude that his view on the dangers of FI was only virtue signalling

  18. If my grandma had the balls……

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