Lewis Hamilton has denied suggestions that he was “furious” with Mercedes over a strategy call late in the Turkish Grand Prix.
Hamilton started 11th on the grid in Istanbul as he served a penalty for using his fourth engine of the season, and the defending Formula One champion finished fifth to surrender his title lead to rival Max Verstappen, who came second.
Hamilton entered the race two points clear of the Red Bull driver but is now six points adrift of the Dutchman with six grands prix left this season.
The 36-year-old would have left Istanbul just one point behind Verstappen in the drivers’ standings if he had secured the final podium place, but Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez instead came third while Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas earned his first win of the year.
Hamilton’s chances of finishing third evaporated late in the rainy race as Mercedes made the decision to bring him into the pits for a change of tyres, and the Briton soon voiced his frustration over the team radio.
“New inters are the way to go, we are under threat,” Hamilton was told by his senior race engineer, Peter Bonnington, with the seven-time champion in third place.
“I don’t think it is, man,” Hamilton replied. “It feels like we should stay out, man.”
Hamilton emerged from the pits in fifth place, and asked Bonnington: “F***, man, why did you give up that space? What position am I in, man?
“We shouldn’t have come in, man. We have got massive graining [on the new tyres]. I told you!”
Despite his audible agitation in the exchange, Hamilton has played down reports that he was angry with his team.
An Instagram story posted by Lewis Hamilton after the Turkish GP
In an Instagram story on Monday morning, Hamilton wrote: “Good morning world! I’ve seen some of the press this morning which has made a bit too much of the incident in yesterday’s race of when to pit.
“It isn’t true to say I’m furious with my team. As a team we work hard to build the best strategy possible but as the race progresses you have to make split decisions – there are so many factors constantly changing.
“Yesterday we took the risk to stay out, hoping it would dry, it didn’t. I wanted to risk it and try and go to the end, but it was my call to stay out and it didn’t work. In the end we did pit and it was the safest thing to do.
“We live and we learn. We win and we lose as a team.
“Don’t ever expect me to be all polite and calm on the radio when I’m racing, we are all very passionate and in the heat of the moment that passion can come out, as it does for all drivers.
“My heart and spirit are out there on the track, it’s the fire in me that’s got me this far but any angst is quickly forgotten and we talked it through, already looking ahead to the next race.
“Today’s another day to rise and as a team. Still we rise.”
Hamilton’s seven F1 titles have him joint with Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver in the history of the sport. The Briton is seeking to move clear of the retired Ferrari legend, while Verstappen is aiming for his first F1 title.
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