Lewis Hamilton said he “doesn’t need to play tactics” to get ahead after accusations of holding up the Red Bull drivers ahead of their final qualifying runs.
With the Q3 runners crawling around the track to wind up for their final laps at the Hungaroring, time ran out before Sergio Perez could get across the line for a final attempt – which meant he could not improve on his best effort.
Max Verstappen was able to set a final lap time but could not go quicker than his previous best and Hamilton remained in P1 to take his eighth pole position in Hungary.
Hamilton was quick to dismiss any claims that his slow driving was deliberate, however, adding that whoever accused him of such tactics “don’t know anything”, adding he has the speed to not need to resort to such behaviour and was merely doing the same as everyone else on track.
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) July 31, 2021
“It’s so silly, everyone was going slowly – did you not watch everybody else? I don’t understand,” Hamilton told reporters after qualifying.
“Do you think I could have gone quicker and just been closer to Valtteri? Everyone was doing a slow out-lap, so it was no different really to any other lap.
“Of course, each time we go out we are trying to prepare the tyres and to keep them cooler because it’s so hot throughout the lap.
“I’m not playing any tactics, I don’t need to play no tactics. I know what I’m doing in the car and I’m fast enough that I don’t need to have tactics.
“Those that were making the comments really don’t clearly know anything about the job we are doing here – which is probably why they are not driving.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said gamesmanship had been in play from the Mercedes driver, but “it was his right” to back the field up to keep his advantage – and holds no grudge against the World Champion for doing so, saying it was “not a major issue” for them.
Both Red Bulls will line up on the second row behind the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the race on Sunday when Hamilton will be aiming to gain yet another accolade – in trying to become the first F1 driver ever to win the same grand prix nine times.