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Wed Apr 23 16:12:37 SAST 2014

McLaren defend Hamilton's 'stupid' decision

Gordon Howard, Sapa-AFP | 23 July, 2012 08:340 Comments
F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Race
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim, Germany
Image by: Lars Baron / Getty Images

McLaren have defended Lewis Hamilton’s decision to pass Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and un-lap himself during Sunday’s German Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who fell to the back of the field after a second-lap puncture, emerged from his second pit stop with new tyres and chose to un-lap himself by passing Vettel, who was battling for the lead with eventual race-winner Fernando Alonso.

Vettel subsequently pitted and emerged behind Jenson Button in the other McLaren, whom he passed controversially to finish the race in second position.

Vettel said Hamilton’s decision to pass him was “stupid” and suggested it had ruined his chances of challenging Alonso for victory.

“That was not nice of Lewis. I don’t see why he was racing us,” said the German.

“If he wants to go fast he should drop back and find a gap. It was stupid as he was a lap down.

“I think that lost us the place to Button because shortly after that, we pitted.” 

However, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh defended his driver, claiming Hamilton’s decision was perfectly legitimate.

“Racing drivers race,” he said. “He was quicker, he overtook and he pulled away, so I’m not sure what stupidity there is in that.” 

McLaren’s sporting director, Sam Michael, agreed and dismissed Vettel’s argument that it had affected his race.

“He (Hamilton) came out and he was fast,” he said. “We said to him that you’ve got blue flags for Jenson.

“When you get a blue flag, you have two choices. You let the car past, or you speed up significantly.

“So we told him to speed up significantly and overtake Vettel and he did so. He didn’t hold Vettel up at all because Vettel couldn’t keep up with him. So it didn’t have any material impact on Vettel’s race and it’s completely legal.” 

Vettel was later hit with a 20-second penalty by the FIA for his move on Button, which dropped him to fifth place behind Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber and promoted the Briton to second.

Michael added that he agreed with the stewards’ decision as Vettel had made no attempt to stay on the track.

“The stewards decided in Jenson’s favour because Vettel left the track and gained an advantage,” he explained.

“Without leaving the track, he would not have been able to complete the manoeuvre and the stewards thought the same thing. That’s why they gave him the penalty.”

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