With the championship title at stake, Lewis Hamilton says he wasn’t willing to “risk anything” against Max Verstappen in Malaysia.
Hamilton was leading Sunday’s grand prix before Verstappen swept past him through Turn 1 on lap 4.
The Dutchman went on to win the grand prix by 13 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Speaking to Verstappen prior to the podium celebrations, Hamilton said: “I could have closed that door but I didn’t want to risk anything.”
He later explained to Sky Sports that he had the bigger picture in mind when he was attacked by Verstappen – the title race.
“I really had to make a decision when Max was closing me down,” he said.
“I had to make the decision to not fight him and risk him coming into me because you know he’s going to give it everything whereas I had everything to lose.
“I didn’t make it very hard for him.
“At the end of the second stint it was looking a little bit better for us but the car was still having big problems at certain corners and I think Max was just managing the pace. I don’t think we had the pace.”
Hamilton leads the championship by 34 points over Sebastian Vettel with five races remaining.