Lewis Hamilton says he was wrong to call Sirotkin move 'disrespectful'

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Lewis Hamilton has admitted he was wrong to criticise Sergey Sirotkin, who he labelled “disrespectful” after an incident in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton claimed pole position for Sunday’s race at Interlagos but was involved in a controversial incident at the beginning of Q2. He and Sirotkin had nearly collided when the Williams driver approached his car at speed on the run up to the hill at Juncao, with Hamilton moving over and forcing the Russian onto the grass.

The incident was not investigated by the stewards and neither man was penalised. Hamilton later said he had been moving off the racing line to let the fast-moving Sirotkin through — the Williams rookie admitted he had misjudged what the five-time world champion was about to do. As both men were on an out-lap and trying to build a gap to the cars in front, in order not to encounter traffic on a timed run, Hamilton questioned Sirotkin’s driving after the session.

Hamilton had said: “We all know to keep a gap [on an out-lap]. It was a disrespectful move. I was trying to get out of his way and then he got to the corner and slowed up. It was kind of strange. It was completely unnecessary because behind him there was a bit of space so ultimately his lap and my lap weren’t great. Hopefully he can learn from it.”

The Mercedes drivers had admitted his criticism was wide of the mark.

Writing on Instagram on Sunday, Hamilton said: “Morning world. I woke this morning feeling I should correct some of the words I used yesterday. I was wrong, it wasn’t a disrespectful move by Sergey, it was a misunderstanding and I honestly attempted to get out of the way. Didn’t work that well but s— happens and I respect the way he handled it.”

Sirotkin had not been upset Hamilton escaped punishment for the incident, saying on Saturday afternoon: “I am not surprised. It is very normal. It has just been a unique situation that you never really find often.

“How it looks from the rules perspective, it is probably harsher from the rule perspective to move like that. But from human side of the view, it is absolutely normal. That is absolutely normal what happened.”

He added: “Because I was coming so quickly, I didn’t expect him to give me the room as we were both on out-laps. I had such a big speed difference with him, that I just moved myself to the left to get through and, at the last minute, he saw me and tried to move.

“I was like 200km/h quicker than him at that point on the left so it was quite difficult to get around and to avoid the contact. But again I don’t think there is anything he did wrong. It was just the situation that I had to push, which was quite unusual for the out-lap, but these things can happen.”