Hamilton admits Albon crash ‘completely my fault’
Freshly-crowned 2019 champion Lewis Hamilton made a rare mistake on the penultimate lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix, spinning around Alex Albon’s Red Bull and costing the Thai driver a shot at his first F1 podium. But the incident ended up costing Hamilton a podium too, with the stewards later handing him five-second penalty – and it was a decision that the Briton seemed to agree with…
With the Ferrari drivers having taken each other out on Lap 66 of the race at Interlagos, Hamilton pitted under the resulting Safety Car, and was then challenging Albon for second place at Bico de Pato on the restart when he got too optimistic into the tightening corner. The pair touched, sending Albon spinning around, and leaving him to finish P14.
Hamilton eventually came home P3 behind Pierre Gasly – who claimed a stunning first F1 podium, having nipped through during the incident – but was eventually demoted to P7 after the stewards handed him a five-second race penalty, along with two penalty points, as Carlos Sainz was subsequently promoted to his own first top-three finish.
“I massively apologise to Albon, I went for a move, the gap was there but obviously it closed at the end," said a very honest Hamilton. "Completely my fault… I took a lot of risks today, as you saw.”
The move, which denied Red Bull their first double-podium since the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix, left Christian Horner understandably underwhelmed – although he at least had the consolation of seeing Max Verstappen win the race in the other RB15.
“It just looked a bit of a half-hearted effort [from Lewis],” was Horner’s verdict. “I’m just gutted for Alex. I just said, ‘Look your time’s going to come’. He didn’t get the trophy today but it’s a drive he can be proud of.”
We deserved to be there, but it wasn't meant to be
Albon was indeed gutted, having also pulled off an impressive pass on Sebastian Vettel for P3 at an earlier Safety Car restart – but he managed to remain philosophical about missing out on his first rostrum appearance.
“I need to look at it back to be honest,” he said. “We came out of Turn 9, I had some gap to Lewis and I thought… ‘I'll go into 10 just to cover him, make sure he doesn't get any ideas’… Once you dive there's a blind spot and you don't know how far alongside you he is.
“It's a shame as I think he would have taken me anyway into Turn 1, because he obviously had the fresh tyres, he was looking racy.”
As Horner said, however, Albon had at least enjoyed one of his strongest races at Red Bull so far – and he was looking to take the good points into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
“I try and give myself positives,” he said of his Brazil performance. “It was kind of on credit as well, it wasn't like we lucked into it too much. Yes, we had the Safety Car, but the battle with the Ferraris was good fun, we deserved to be there, but it wasn't meant to be. Next one, next race.”