Team player Hamil­ton takes a hit in Hun­gary

Evening Times - - SPORT - By PHILIP DUN­CAN

LEWIS HAMIL­TON let his heart rule his head in a re­mark­able mo­ment of sports­man­ship at the Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix which could ul­ti­mately cost him the cham­pi­onship.

As Se­bas­tian Vet­tel took the che­quered flag at the Hun­garor­ing to claim his fourth vic­tory of the sea­son, his ti­tle ri­val was self­lessly sur­ren­der­ing back the fi­nal spot on the podium to his Mercedes team-mate Valt­teri Bot­tas.

Bot­tas had ear­lier been or­dered aside by Mercedes so Hamil­ton could take the chal­lenge to the Fer­rari duo of Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen at a track where over­tak­ing is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult.

But Hamil­ton, who said he would give the place back to team­mate Bot­tas should he fail in his pur­suit of the Fer­rari duo, re­mained true to his word, and pulled aside on the fi­nal cor­ner of the fi­nal lap.

Af­ter mov­ing seven sec­onds clear of Bot­tas, and with an eye on the cham­pi­onship, Hamil­ton might have been for­given for hold­ing po­si­tion. How­ever, the 32-yearold, un­like many be­fore him, has not been known for di­vert­ing to the dark arts in his decade-long ca­reer, and he was not ready to start here.

In­stead Hamil­ton (inset), rac­ing in front of his father An­thony for the first time in nearly four years, vowed to win this year’s cham­pi­onship bat­tle the right way.

He would have been 11 points be­hind Vet­tel had he re­mained in third. His glowing sport­ing ges­ture, how­ever, means he will now head into the sport’s sum­mer shut­down 14 points adrift of his ri­val.

“The mind is more cut-throat and ev­ery point counts, and it’s do-or-die,” Hamil­ton said. “The heart told me that the right thing to do was to let Valt­teri past.

“I want to win the cham­pi­onship the right way, and I don’t know whether that will come back to bite me on the back­side or not. But I said at the be­gin­ning of the year I want to win it the right way, and I do think to­day was the right way to do things.

“It hope­fully shows that I am a man of my word, and also I am a team player.”

Of that there can be no deny­ing. Fer­rari, as they his­tor­i­cally do, have thrown their com­plet­ing back­ing be­hind one driver. Vet­tel is their main man, but Mercedes, much like their lead driver, op­pose pref­er­en­tial treat­ment.

IT IS a tac­tic they read­ily ad­mit could thwart Hamil­ton in his quest to be­come the first Bri­tish grand prix driver to win four ti­tles. “It cost us three points and it could cost us the cham­pi­onship and we are per­fectly con­scious of that,” Hamil­ton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added. “Say­ing I wouldn’t re­gret the de­ci­sion would be very naive. “If you miss out on the ti­tle by three points ev­ery­body would say it is be­cause of Budapest and I would be the first one to shoot my­self in the knee.”

Lewis Hamil­ton sur­ren­dered a third-place fin­ish to Mercedes team-mate Valt­teri Bot­tas af­ter a mid-race pact be­tween the two drivers in Hun­gary

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