Lewis Hamilton cast a disheartened figure after Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix which he concluded out of the points after fumbling the race’s late restart because of a brake switch error.
The 51 lap race was turned on its head five laps from the checkered flag when race leader Max Verstappen slammed the barriers on the main straight after suffering a probable tyre failure.
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After a brief Safety Car period, the race was red flagged, with teams and driver then preparing for a second standing start and a final two-lap mad dash.
Hamilton was running second behind Sergio Perez when the race was halted and thus lined up alongside the Red Bull driver on the restart. The Mercedes driver outpaced his rival down to the first corner but then locked up and darted down the escape road.
Hamilton eventually rejoined but well down the order, concluding his day P15. As he parked his car, he asked race engineer Peter Bonnington is he had had inadvertently hit his car’s “brake magic” button, which Bono confirmed.
“Naturally, it is quite a humbling experience, to be honest,” said Hamilton. “We worked so hard to come back from out of the top 10.
“It was looking so good. I put everything on the line and I fought as hard as I could today.
“On the restart I think when Perez moved over towards me, I clicked a switch and it basically switches the rear brakes off. It just went straight. I had no idea that I’d even touched it.
“I put everything on the line and I fought as hard as I could today. It’s very hard to take, but mostly just really sorry for the men and women in the team.”
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After Verstappen’s own misfortune, Hamilton and his arch-rival leave Baku with their points in the drivers’ standings unchanged, which was perhaps a consolation of sorts for both drivers.
For sure, I think it was very unfortunate for Max.
“I would say today is a good stroke of bad luck,” added Hamilton. “It is what it is. We will try to regroup and come back stronger at the next race.”
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