Sir Lewis Hamilton felt that if he had have lost 25 points to Max Verstappen at Imola, then it would have been hard to recover.
While chasing Verstappen through traffic for the lead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton got it all wrong as he tried to go around the outside of George Russell but ended up sliding into the gravel after venturing onto a damp patch.
The Briton kept his Mercedes W12 going, but in trying to recover ran out of escape road and hit the barrier, damaging his front wing.
In the end he would reverse out of the gravel trap, but soon after a crash between Russell and Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas brought out the red flags, sending Hamilton and the remaining runners back to the pit lane.
All of this meant that Hamilton was still running just inside the points, and when the race re-started he was able to recover to P2 at the chequered flag.
With the fastest lap bonus point Hamilton was able to retain his lead of the Drivers’ Championship over Verstappen by a point, but if his race had have ended in the gravel, then Hamilton feels that even after two races it would have been “hard” to reel Verstappen back in.
“I think, without doubt, getting back to second and getting these points today will be very valuable through the season,” Hamilton told reporters.
“If I’d lost 25 points today, that would have been hard to recover…based on the fact that Red Bull – it’s the first time that they’ve had a championship-winning car, their car is incredibly fast.
“They were faster than us this weekend, definitely in qualifying trim but it looks like a little bit also in race trim. But I don’t know if they made a couple of mistakes, I think they did, Max did in qualifying for example otherwise he would have been on pole.
“But we’ve got a real close battle which we love the fact that it’s a close battle and it’s great to see McLaren back up there after such a long time, it’s great to see Ferrari looking strong so there’s going to be a lot of exciting races up ahead and challenging for all of us in so many different ways.”
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When the race was under red flag conditions, Hamilton was seen crouched in the pit lane with his head in his hands.
But the recovery which followed was phenomenal around a circuit known for overtaking difficulty, and Hamilton made it clear that he was not prepared to let his race end in the gravel.
“I think, in life, when you experience whatever form of adversity in terms of challenges or mistakes and mishaps or whatever barriers you find that you have to get over or hurdles, it’s always more satisfying when you overcome them,” he explained.
“It’s not the mistakes that define you, again it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up and I think definitely in that moment, for me, you know I don’t make too many mistakes and it was gutting in that position.
“But I honestly feel like these things happen for a reason and the others did a fantastic job, but I remember just sitting there, looking at the barrier and I refused to think that the race was over. I refused to believe that the race was done.
“I could have obviously just turned the car off and got out but I’m grateful that I didn’t. I’m grateful that I did do a reverse and then after that just kind of getting out the car and trying to switch the anger and turn it into positive energy so that I could get back in and race forwards. It’s an amazing lesson to be sent and experience.”