At the start of the race Hamilton won, the pair came very close to touching as Verstappen aggressively stayed on the race line towards the second turn, having forced his way inside Hamilton on the long descent towards turn 1 in Barcelona.
The near-clash has been four races in a row since the start of the season as the duo shifted wheel to wheel, Verstappen then taking the lead he would occupy for much of the race, until strategy aggressive Mercedes calls. brought Hamilton into contention to retake the lead late in the race with a significant lag in tire life compared to its rival.
When asked to describe his feelings on Autosport’s move from Verstappen, Hamilton said: “As we entered Turn 1 I just made sure to give Max as much space as possible.
“In my mind it’s always a marathon not a sprint, so I always think of the long game.
“And, of course, you could be a little more aggressive. Do I need it too? Well I’m in the position that I am because I don’t get too aggressive when I don’t need to be.
Hamilton acknowledged that there had been a brief moment on the race from the grid – when Verstappen pulled back to sit behind the Mercedes for a few seconds – where he could have moved inward and “seal the work there “.
He explained: “I knew Valtteri [Bottas] was obviously starting third and the goal was to work as a team, so I stayed on the left.
“I think in hindsight, there might have been a moment, looking back, that when Max walked past me for a second [where] I could have managed and sealed the job there. But I did not do it. “
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21 and the rest of the peloton on the first lap
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Explaining his take on the Turn 1 incident, Verstappen said: “The launch was good, and of course I rolled a little less on the wing compared to Mercedes, which helped me a bit. to put myself alongside Lewis.
“And then I went to look for turn 1.”
Bottas also spoke about starting the race alongside Hamilton and Verstappen at the post-event press conference, where he explained how he fell behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc during Barcelona’s famous right-hand turn – a gesture which considerably compromised the Finn’s chances of staying. with the leaders for the remainder of the race.
“To be honest I didn’t see Charles at turn 3,” said Bottas. “Once I saw him outside going much faster than me, it was too late. I have to review this.”
When asked if he had lost momentum behind Hamilton and Verstappen’s close contact as he approached Turn 2, Bottas replied: “Yes, sure, but turn 1/2 – there is only one line, you can’t do much.
“So I knew I could keep my place there, but in turn 3 I was really trying to follow Lewis closely on the inside and I had no chance Charles was that close and managed to get a good grip and a good line from the outside. “