Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has expressed his doubts over the claim that kerb contact caused floor damage to his car in the Australian Grand Prix.
In a Mercedes video last week, strategist James Vowles indicated that the damage was sustained “during the course of the race while riding over some of the kerbs.”
However, Hamilton doesn’t believe that that was the case.
“We saw the drop in performance from lap four,” he said. “There was an assumption made that it was by kerbs, but I didn’t ride any more kerbs than I had done in the past.
"So it most likely was debris, some debris from other cars losing parts of their cars.
“It could have been that, but it’s all a guessing game. I didn’t make any mistakes or run wide anywhere to cause the incident. But it was a big loss in performance.”
Hamilton also denied the suggestion that he deliberately held up Sebastian Vettel in the Melbourne race to make the German vulnerable to attack from Max Verstappen.
“I never ever plan to hold anybody up. I just focussed on doing my job, and wasn’t thinking at all about his race.
“I naturally wanted to keep him behind, but I knew that I had a long, long way to go. He stopped a lap before me so I knew that we’d both be in a similar boat towards the end.
"I was thinking a bit more long term so that I could defend to up and coming cars towards the end of the race, which I’m not sure he really thought of, because his tyres went off quite drastically at the end.”
Hamilton said even his own team hadn’t fully appreciated the tactics that he was using when he was pacing himself.
“The engineers just worry a little bit, they're worried whether you know what's happening because they don’t always know exactly what's happening. For example in the last race, my engineers had no idea that I was saving the tyres.
“They thought that I was off the pace, which I'm sure a lot of the public thought. But I was saving tyres, saving fuel, making sure that I had enough to push to the end, which was all that I needed to do to finish where I was.
"I couldn't do any more to get further ahead and I didn't need to do any less.”
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