Hamilton feared he would crash into Vettel/Verstappen

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton feared he would be caught up in the crash between the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel during the Chinese Grand Prix.

Along with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton sneaked past the cars of Vettel and Verstappen, who tangled with 14 laps left in the race, as Verstappen attempted to pass at Turn 14.

Brit Hamilton went to the outside while Raikkonen took the inside.

“I was definitely worried of catching [crashing into] them, especially as they were trying to turn around, so I thought I might get caught there,” said Hamilton.

“But anyway, I got through safely. I came towards the apex and I saw them both facing me.

“So I was like, ‘I can’t do the tighter turn that Kimi had done’, so I had to go left.”

Verstappen finished fourth on the road after recovering from the incident with Vettel to re-pass Hamilton.

But Verstappen was given a 10-second penalty for his role in the incident. That relegated him to fifth, behind Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo took the race win ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Raikkonen.

Hamilton had battled with Verstappen earlier in the race, when the Dutchman ran off the road while trying to pass him at Turn 7.

“Turn 8’s a little bit more possible [to overtake at], but there’s actually a dirty line on the outside of Turn 7,” said Hamilton.

“It’s a very fast, long corner. “I don’t think any top driver has ever been taken on the outside there before. I didn’t even see him there, I was doing the corner normally.

“When I watch the replay, I don’t really understand what he was up to there, but it wasn’t a problem for me.

“And yeah, naturally [I’m] thankful for the way he drives, because that meant we didn’t lose too many points today.”

Hamilton admitted he was surprised to find the Red Bulls behind him on fresh tyres, after Mercedes elected not to pit under a safety car around half-distance.

“I don’t know if anyone was expecting them to be as quick as they were, after the safety car I stayed out.

“Initially I was like ‘okay this is good, I’m now right behind Seb, and maybe I have a chance, maybe there’s a little bit of battle we can have to the end’.

“And I looked in my mirrors and the Red Bulls were right behind me on brand new tyres so I was like ‘how the hell did that happen’.

Regarding the decision not to pit under the safety car, Hamilton added: “It doesn’t matter now, it’s done.

“The team made a decision, we would have fallen behind Kimi, at the time we didn’t know that the others were going to have the collisions so at the time it was not the right decision.”