Hamilton admits he drove ‘well, well off the pace’

Date published: March 19 2019

Lewis Hamilton has backed up Sebastian Vettel’s claims that he didn’t try all that hard in Melbourne, saying once Valtteri Bottas had the gap, he didn’t see a reason to “push and keep close.”

The Mercedes driver finished a distant second to his team-mate in Melbourne with the deficit between the two since explained as serious damage to the floor of Hamilton’s W10.

But on the time it was a strange occurrence as Hamilton was not able to keep pace with Bottas, dropping back into the clutches of first Vettel and then Max Verstappen.

He managed to hold on to second place with Vettel saying he felt the Brit was “playing”, going as far to say he was “probably bored and not happy because he lost the start.”

Hamilton has not gone as far as to say he was bored, however, he did concede that once Bottas got ahead of him, it was more about “managing” his race than pushing hard.

“Valtteri had a lot more pace in the car,” Hamilton said.

“But here you need a 1.8 second delta to overtake the car ahead. So as soon as we got through Turn One it was really about managing.

“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. So it would have continued to increase.

“But then after that I was trying to look after the tyres and then I got [pit] stopped super-early in reaction to the Ferraris.

“I knew from then on the race was done because I had 47 laps [to go], so I knew immediately I was going to be in trouble on the long run so I drive well off the pace.

“Well, well off the pace to make sure at the end of the race I still had life left in the tyres.

“I knew on those following laps Max and Valtteri were still out and they kept going for laps and laps so I knew at the end I would have someone on my back.

“But rather than push and keep close, struggle with the tyres and at the end have big degradation, which Vettel had which was understandable because his tyres were so old, I was quite happy with the pace I was able to pull out at the end.”

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