Hamilton and Raikkonen clash attract controversy
The clash between Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton at Sunday’s British Grand Prix caused a great deal of controversy - but the Mercedes driver effectively lost the race at the start, not three corners later.
Hamilton should have won. He had the pace in clear air, he had the degradation of the tyres under control - more so than anybody else - and, crucially, he had taken pole position with a brilliant lap on Saturday.
But a woeful getaway, with too much wheel spin off the line, dropped Hamilton to third immediately, behind the Ferrari of eventual winner Sebastian Vettel and the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
In a one-stop race, with Ferrari and Mercedes so evenly matched, it would have been tough for Hamilton to recover to beat Vettel, even before the Raikkonen incident. That is especially true with no apparent team orders to allow him to pass Bottas as well. The only proviso is that we will never know what would have happened under the safety car in that situation.
In my view, Hamilton could have been a bit safer with Raikkonen when the Ferrari driver attacked him into Turn Three on the opening lap, where his race completely turned.
They were side by side into the corner, Raikkonen on the inside. Hamilton gave him space but took a bit of a risk because he didn’t allow Raikkonen any margin for error. As Raikkonen locked up, it was clear he was trying to avoid an accident, but he ended up running into Hamilton’s Mercedes.
If Hamilton had gone slightly wider around the corner he would then still have had the inside for Turn Four and surely kept the place. They might have still clashed but the risk would have been much reduced, as Raikkonen would have had more space to lock up into on his outside.
There’s no doubt that Hamilton is not to blame for the incident, and the stewards laid it firmly on Raikkonen. But thinking about the championship - and even the race itself - a bit more caution from Hamilton might have been a better option. After all, he had the pace to recover.
Having said that, hindsight is always a wonderful thing and the fact it was Hamilton’s home race and he got off to a bad start was probably playing on his mind as well. It’s only an issue because Raikkonen went in deep trying to gain the position and hit him.
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