Lewis Hamilton believes his collision with Alex Albon in F1’s incredible season-opening Austrian GP was a “racing incident” despite receiving a penalty, a view not shared by a devastated Red Bull driver and his team.
Hamilton made contact with Albon towards the end of the action-packed race, after the youngster – who was on the charge in third on softer tyres than the Mercedes following a late Safety Car – appeared to get ahead of the six-time world champion around the outside of Turn Four.
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The dramatic crash had huge ramifications on both drivers’ races.
Hamilton was handed a 5s penalty which ultimately cost him a podium, with both Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris leapfrogging him.
While Albon went spinning and dropped way down the field, eventually retiring from an action-packed race he believes he could have won.
It’s the second time in three races that Hamilton has been penalised for colliding with Albon, having shunted into the Red Bull last year at Interlagos.
“[It was] a really unfortunate scenario with Alex,” Hamilton told Sky F1 after the Austrian GP. “I can’t believe we’ve come together again.
“It really felt like a racing incident but either way I’ll take whatever penalty they feel I deserve and move forwards.”
But Albon and Red Bull were less than happy with the Mercedes star.
“I felt Brazil was a bit more 50/50, this one I felt like I did the move already and I was kind of already focused on Bottas in front,” said a visibly frustrated Albon. “It was so late for contact.
“There’s always a risk of overtaking on the outside but I gave as much space as I really could, I was right on the edge.
“I thought as long as I give him all the space I can give him, it’s up to him if he wants to crash or not.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner, meanwhile, was adamant that Albon had “got the job done” and insisted: “It was just a misjudgement from Lewis at the end of the day, and it would be good if he apologised for it.”
Hamilton vs Albon: Have your say
‘I could have won’: Hamilton, Albon on dramatic Austrian GP
Hamilton: “The race is done and I just feel like moving forwards. It’s not been a great weekend for me. Yesterday was entirely my fault [qualifying grid penalty], it was a bit odd for sure today to all of a sudden get a penalty but that didn’t destabilise me.
“It just encouraged me to go out and drive as best as I could. I felt like I did. I had the pace to catch up with Valtteri and then, a really unfortunate scenario with Alex. I can’t believe we’ve come together again. It really felt like a racing incident but either way I’ll take whatever penalty they feel I deserve and move forwards.”
Albon: “I’m a bit fresh right now so i’ve got to be careful what I say. It is what it is, but I really felt like I could have won that race. Of course Mercedes had the outright pace today, but the guys did a great job with strategy. As soon as it all played out it looked really strong for us. I knew they were on the hard tyres and the first five laps was when I was going to do the overtakes. I was confident, the car was feeling good.
“I felt Brazil was a bit more 50/50, this one I felt like I did the move already and UI was kinda already focused on Bottas in front. It was so late for contact.
“There’s always a risk of overtaking on the outside but I gave as much space as I really could, I was right on the edge. I thought as long as I give him all the space I can give him, it’s up to him if he wants to crash or not.”
Asked if he wanted to speak to Hamilton, Albon said: “I’ll cool off and I’ll come back.”
Horner: “This sport can be pretty brutal sometimes and it feels like today has been one of those days. Alex drove a great race, he didn’t deserve that. Five seconds doesn’t do anything for him. He could have won that race, we’ve strategically made the right call, gone onto the soft tyres, he was in a strong position.
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