MARINA BAY, Singapore — He may have won the Singapore Grand Prix and extended his championship lead to a season-high 40 points but Lewis Hamilton said the hairs were standing up on his body when he caught traffic that failed to obey blue flags midway through the race.
On lap 38, Hamilton was enjoying a four second lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in P2 but in the space of a few corners his advantage was wiped out as he came up to lap Romain Grosjean and Sergey Sirotkin. With the Haas and Williams cars squabbling for position, Hamilton was unable to get past and as a result Verstappen closed right up to his gearbox, almost close enough to try a move on the Mercedes.
While Hamilton was able to hang on to the lead, he admitted it was quite an uncomfortable moment for him. However, he didn’t blame Grosjean and Sirotkin entirely, despite the pair being slapped with five-second time penalties.
“I got a great start and then after that I was really able to control the pack, control the pace and look after the tyres,” Hamilton said. “It definitely got a little bit interesting towards the end with some of the backmarkers which was incredibly difficult. You already felt the draft from the cars when you’re five, six seconds behind and the car starts sliding a bit more.
“Max had an opportunity [to pass into] Turn 10. I had to go on a massive defence and even then I was racing the backmarker and they still weren’t lifting as I was alongside them.
“You can’t see the blue flags, they’re very dark blue and in the smallest holes out there so you actually can’t really see them until the light panels come on and then you can see. But even when the light panels came on a lot of the drivers weren’t really responding so it made it very, very tough. It gets your hairs standing up for a second and then it’s back to business.”
With Sebastian Vettel finishing third for Ferrari it saw Hamilton gain another 10 points in the championship. However, the four-time world champion refused to get carried away, insiting he won’t be changing his approach anytime soon.
“We’re really just taking it one race at a time knowing that Ferrari have had quite good pace the last few races,” Hamilton said. “Of course it feels great but I’ve been here a long, long time so I know I can’t get ahead of myself, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We have to continue to remain humble and just keep working as hard as we can.
“Still lots of points are available but with this performance and with this focus that we have as a team I truly believe that we can deliver impactful weekends like this for the rest of the season. The approach I have is working really well so I don’t see the point in changing, you just need to keep getting better and better.”