SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Lewis Hamilton felt the penalty he received for colliding with Sergio Perez during Saturday’s sprint was harsh.
Hamilton made contact with Perez as he passed him at the Stavelot corner, six laps into the shortened race.
The contact left Perez with big damage to the sidepod and floor of his Red Bull RB19 and he eventually retired from the event.
Hamilton was given a five-second penalty, which dropped him from fourth to seventh after the chequered flag.
“Not really much to say. Racing incident I think, I tried to go up the inside,” Hamilton said on Saturday evening.
When asked if he was surprised a seven-time world champion made such a move, Perez said: “I think he was in a bit of a hurry.
“Everyone was in a hurry to recover today, it’s a very short race and you need to take that level of risk. But not nice to get my race ruined by him.”
Perez said he had no chance of continuing after the collision.
“It was massive damage from the contact from Lewis,” he said. “He just took out the whole right hand side of the car. He damaged the floor and sidepod so that was game over, we lost too much grip with it.”
The stewards found Hamilton had been predominantly to blame, with the verdict saying he “was attempting to pass Perez on the inside at Turn 15. While Perez was giving little room on the inside for Hamilton, Hamilton drove onto the kerb and subsequently understeered into Perez in the wet conditions”.
Hamilton was also given two penalty points, the only two on his record. A driver gets an automatic race ban if they ever accumulate 12 over a rolling 12-month period.
Hamilton felt the gap he went for had been justified.
“My only thought is it’s tricky conditions out there, we’re all trying our best, and of course it wasn’t intentional,” he added.
“I think I went for a gap, he was slow going through 14, I went up the inside, I was more than half a car length on the inside, and if you no longer go for a gap you’re no longer a racing driver as Ayrton said, so that’s what I did. When I watched it back it felt like a racing incident to me.”
“I feel like we’re in a racing period… we don’t want to be deterred from racing, you know?”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agreed.
“Absolute racing incident,” he said. “This is a sprint race, we want to see them racing.
“The argument of the damage isn’t valid because he was going backwards before then… massively backwards.
“When you look at the corner they were side by side. Yes, fair enough, it takes two to tango but it’s a racing incident. For me that’s pretty clear.”