Hamilton: Verstappen’s mistake gave me “perfect” chance to pass

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says the Portuguese Grand Prix was a “tough race” after falling to third and fighting his way back to the front.

The Mercedes driver fell to third behind Max Verstappen after the early Safety Car period, but was able to re-pass his rival later. Hamilton then caught and passed team mate Valtteri Bottas a handful of laps later to take the lead.

Although Sergio Perez led for a while as he ran a long first stint, Hamilton eventually moved back ahead. But despite appearing in control of proceedings, the world champion said his race was not as comfortable as it looked.

“That was such a tough race – physically and mentally,” said Hamilton.

“Just keeping everything together. It’s very windy out there, so it’s very easy to just put a foot wrong. I just didn’t quite get as good a start as Valtteri and lost out on the restart, which was not good. I was not happy about that, naturally.

Hamilton says he knew that passing his rivals in the early phase of the race would be crucial to his chances of victory.

“I really had to try and position myself the best that I could,” says Hamilton.

“I can’t remember but I think Max made a mistake at some point on the lap which was perfect, and I knew that was the lap where I was going to be as close as I could to him in the last sector.

“Then with Valtteri, I had to make the move early on before the tyres were destroyed and managed to just get him into turn one, just right on the limit. Just great racing.”

With his 97th career victory, Hamilton extended his lead in the drivers championship to eight points over Verstappen.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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32 comments on “Hamilton: Verstappen’s mistake gave me “perfect” chance to pass”

  1. Amateur psychology calling the overpowered merc a mistake of max.

    1. Take off your tin foil hat.

  2. Verstappen shouldn’t have been ahead of him in the first place.
    Hamilton blundered on the SC restart to 1) react too late and 2) defend the inside.

    Also he gave Verstappen a shot at pole position by two scrappy runs in Q3 allowing the mediocre Bottas to outqualify him.

    But, Lewis did correct his mistakes and took a commanding win!

  3. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    2nd May 2021, 19:01

    Max is doing way too many mistakes overall thus far. It’s really difficult to have a perfect weekend in the current era of F1, but Max’s mistakes have been quite costly. And if you want to challenge the extremely powerful combination of Mercedes and Hamilton, these mistakes are costly

    He was gaining on Bottas when he got that massive slide at turn 14 and gave a free spot back to Hamilton. Hamilton has been doing some mistakes as well but he has the ability to bounce back quite remarkably.

    Max lost a potential pole position, the point of the fastest lap and the spot to Hamilton just in one weekend

    1. A massive slide. Lol, a oversteer wobble. The only real error I noticed is when Max caught Lewis sleeping during the restart.

      1. Remind me who won again? That oversteer cost Max the race. The restart cost Hamilton nothing ;-)

      2. Come on!! Accept that Max is suddenly looking a bit more vulnerable, now the pressure is on.

        For instance, do you see Hamilton making that error at Bahrain, which basically cost him his last great overtaking chance?

        Yes Lewis has made errors – but this is a driver that is fairly ordinary in the early season and eventually gets going at Barcelona. In 2008, 2017 and 2018 he’d won less races after three rounds and now this is his joint ‘best’ start

        The difference between the two is Hamilton genuinely relishes the fight.

        I realised just how weirdly ‘on the edge’ he is like Senna, Shui and Alonso when he was doing a TV thing with Jake Humphrey, who’d just been told off by Button (it was when they were in the same team) for basically going so fast). Hamilton jumped in next to him and more or less asked him why he was driving like a granny – to which a wide eyed Humphrey, like a kid that had the best party, gleefully started dragging the car all over the place, much to the delight of Hamilton.

        That told me just what a freak he is. A born racer, who performs even better when the competition is greater (note, how everyone seems to have forgotten Vettel’s very serious 2017/18 challenges!!)

        We’ll see how Max handles this – but it’s going to be interesting to see how he goes on, now he’s lost his ‘promising kid’ tag

        1. I have see doing poor Q3 laps in Bahrain and Portugal, seen him going off, take off his wing and being caught off guard and out raced.

          Lewis was saved by 29 track limits in Bahrein, red flag situation in Imola and DRS plus straight line pace in Portugal.

          Max has made mistakes as well, however Lewis 29 offs in Bahrain led to an advantage while the Mercedes was simply to powerful in Portugal.

          Yes Max exceeded track limits, but that didn’t cost him a race…

  4. Ah, the mental game
    The main difference was the faster Mercedes on the straight

    1. Davethechicken
      2nd May 2021, 19:47

      You should be pleased that Hamilton feels the need to go there!

      1. With by far the fastest car it was just a matter of time.
        The wobble did it a lap earlier.

        1. Davethechicken
          2nd May 2021, 20:27

          The mental game is a big factor in top level sports.
          When the pressure is on some will crack.
          Imagine walking down the footpath, typing into your phone-would you ever fall off it? Even nearly?
          Now imagine you are walking on the same footpath at the top of a cliff.
          Suddenly you might be thinking about every foot plant. Your walking is much less fluid as your brain doesn’t trust the automated muscle memory.
          Same thing happens on the 18th tee of the final round etc
          When the pressure is on, some will crack.

          1. For now we have seen two races with two substantial mistakes by Lewis.

          2. You’ve notice it too

            People seem to forget that Hamilton did the same with Seb in 17/18 and then at the end of 19′ when he was no longer a threat, started supporting him!!

        2. Hardly, mistakes stopped Max today not his car. He’ll learn, it’s the first time he is in real contention, I was impressed with his pass today very clean and clinical.

          1. Davethechicken
            2nd May 2021, 20:55

            My point is more that Hamilton is starting the mental games and the mental pressure early in the season.
            Will Max crack? Will Ham?
            Time will tell, but for neutral viewers will be fascinating battle. Let’s hope so.
            For the diehard Max and Ham fans will be more emotive.

    2. Faster? Not according to the speed trap.

    3. From what I remember, Max lost DRS on that lap due to the mistake which resulted in him being easily overtaken by Hamilton with DRS. The mistake did result in losing a position as otherwise Hamilton was not going to be able to overtake Verstappen if he still had DRS.

  5. Let the mind games commence and continue!!

  6. It’s very, very simple. You have to be near perfect to stop Hamilton and Mercedes. Yep I expect probably more occasional mistakes from all the drivers, but Red bull have got to capitalise where Mercedes fall down, even if it’s a minor trip.

    I don’t really care if Hamilton makes mistakes in all the races, for the rest of the season, in order for Max to be a real contender and a worthy driver to take the mantle from Hamilton, beat him with the best tools you ever been given to take him on.

  7. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    2nd May 2021, 20:53

    I don’t think Verstappen’s mistake made a lot of difference; even if he had been on pole I think he’d have lost. On the straights the Mercedes looked comfortably faster than the Red Bull – in fact in general both Mercedes looked like they were faster overall. I’m really not seeing this ‘Red Bull fastest’ kind of thing. To me it still seems the Red Bull needs to be at absolute maximum and taking risks to beat an ‘underperforming’ Mercedes. When they that care working consistently how they like – and they will, any concept of this being Red Bull’s to lose will be forgotten when Mercedes cruise to yet another ‘exciting’ title.

    1. @rocketpanda

      Honestly, I’ve never believed any of the nonsense that Mercedes had been spewing out about Red bull being favourites. It looks much closer among them this year, especially during qualifying, but on race pace Mercedes still has the edge. Mercedes is still getting on top of its problems as well.. So by race 6 or 7, we could see them back to 2020 form unless Red bull pulls a trick out of the bag.

      Regarding Max vs Lewis. Both drivers have made some errors.
      Max could have made a move stick in Bahrain and taken the win. He should have put it on pole in Imola (although it made no difference in the end) and he could have avoided this error out of turn 14.. But it’s hard to say whether this error would have given him race victory anyways. Mercedes had the better car today and I think P2 was probably the best he could have done.

      Lewis made some errors as well. Lap 1 in Imola he went on the kerbs and damaged his car. He then went off and dropped to P9 and a lap down in tricky conditions. Honestly, he was lucky with a red flag, or else he would be trailing Max in the championship right now. This weekend, Lewis missed a chance to put it on pole and also made an error in the SC restart to drop to P3. Luckily he had the pace to still take the win.. But he might not always have that car advantage on other weekends.

      The way I see it neither driver has been perfect so far, but Lewis has been slightly luckier with being able to recover from his mistakes. Right now the Mercedes advantage has Lewis ahead on points.. So there’s no way I would ever consider Red bull favourites.

      1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
        3rd May 2021, 17:16

        To be honest I think there’s a substantial difference between pushing so hard you make ridiculous mistakes or resort to doing dodgy things (Ferrari) and pushing into overdriving and iffy reliability (Red Bull) just to keep up compared to a team that even ‘underperforming’ is still comfortably able to put it on pole and steam away to victory almost unchallenged. The car advantage Mercedes have is enormous, and still very much there.

        People say ‘you have to be perfect to beat Hamilton’, but it’s pretty easy to be perfect when you don’t need to stress the car or yourself so hard to pull out a result while your competitors are destroying their cars, throwing them off the track and pulling every trick they can just to keep up with you. Red Bull are certainly closer than they’ve been in years but there’s no way they’re a favourite or have been at any point this year.

  8. The headline story is that Hamilton passed Verstappen because of a mistake, even though everyone knows it was a re-pass following a mistake by Hamilton where Verstappen passed him. Getting seriously tired of this angling. You’re a news site, not a fan site.

    1. Errrrrrr… “Racefans” suggests not.

      1. RaceFans suggest they are fans of good racing, not one driver/team.
        That the difference is not clear says a lot.

    2. LOL!! You really need to give up your Max fan-boy devotion a rest

      Yesterday, Hamilton did make one of the most basic errors any driver could make.

      So then it’s advantage Max – don’t make any errors or allow Hamilton a sniff

      He did make and error and it was an overtake few drivers would have dared to do. Which of course is the problem for Max – he knows that Hamilton stalks F1 drivers like a shark tracking a seal. He often looks like he’s fallen back and then within seconds he’s suddenly in front.

      Max has arguably blown two great opportunities to have won all the races, by his own errors. His slight slide when poised to pass Lewis at Bahrain and now a basic error which meant Lewis passed him far earlier than was likely and as so could hunt Bottas down and get that vital gap

      And the history isn’t on Max’s side – in all of the seasons that Hamilton has been a genuine contender for the title, he’s got a higher proportion of points out of his first four races in just the 2015 and 2019 seasons (and even the latter one, was because he was given the Bahrain victory, due to the very unlucky Leclerc’s breakdown)

      Max should have won all three races and then, yes we’d be talking about Hamilton’s errors and how he always starts seasons poorly (by his standards) but maybe he’s feeling the pressure

      But we can see from Max’s angry gesture to the camera after qualifying, plus his sulky moans about the track and Turkey’s – he’s clearly feeling the pressure

      And who can blame him? It’s all new to him

  9. @balue Hmmm. See that URL? raceFANS. Do you know/recall the site’s previous title, F1FANatic? This site is fundamentally Keiths F1 blog.
    It’s a private & independent site. It has no affiliations with any news corporations, as far as I know.

    Besides all that, you are expressing a personal opinion about what happened. The article is stating just the facts. Which in my book, is essentially the news?

    1. @psynrg We were left in no doubt after the article some days ago declaring that anyone even questioning Hamilton like for example his backing onto the track in the Imola race, do so because of hatred. Basically expressing hatred of non-Hamilton fans.

      My point is that it should end. It’s just not seemly. RACEfans, not DRIVERfans. It’s embarrassing and not sporting.

      1. Lets be clear here. You have an issue because this involves Lewis, plain and simple. Still, it is quite comforting. The sun rises every morning, the tides rise, the tides fall and Balue has a bee in his bonnet about Lewis Hamilton. All is right with the world.

  10. Nope, as a fan, i wouldn’t put it past Hamilton, even in that situation of a live interview, to automatically use the opportunity for a bit of ‘gamesmanship’.

    Verstappen will be thinking ‘I lost that position because of my mistake’. Not the car, but human error.

    1. All the greats do it

      Federer’s at it already, with his brilliant ‘I’m not worthy’ type comments, where he says it’s a young guys sport he’s just happy to compete, blah blah blah!!

      It’s interesting with Hamilton. Whist the car of course is an equal factor – I do wonder if he’s got the psychological hold on his rivals like Shui did and Federer and Woods (when fit) still occasionally do, despite their age

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