‘Humbled’ Lewis Hamilton admitted he was gutted to miss out on winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after mistakenly pressing Mercedes’ ‘magic’ button.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described the weekend’s performance as ‘unacceptable’ and admitted both he and Hamilton were ‘destroyed’ by the unlucky turn of events which saw the race slip through their hands.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was on course to win the race before crashing and Hamilton was handed a golden opportunity to not only win but become the championship leader.
Verstappen's collision with Hamilton a 'tactical foul' - Wolff
After the race was paused due to Verstappen’s sudden accident caused by a tyre blow-out, Hamilton was up against another Red Bull driver Sergio Perez.
But in a bizarre incident just at a critical moment after the restart, Hamilton’s front tyres locked up and the Brit dropped to 15th place, seeing the opportunity to win the race literally go up in smoke.
Hamilton explained afterwards he had accidentally hit Mercedes ‘magic’ button which should be turned off before a race starts. But as Perez was defending his line, Hamilton unknowingly activated the button.
“Checo pulled to the left and I moved to the left and I hit a switch unknowingly and it basically just switched off the rear brakes and only the fronts were working,” Hamilton said.
It's really painful but I am really sorry to the team for this day.
“All I can do is try to rebuild.”
Hamilton said he was ‘humbled’ by the mistake: “Second to last lap to lose out [is tough], but Max had bad luck also today. There is a long way to go.”
Wolff, however, insisted it was not his driver’s fault.
“I have a four-hour flight with Lewis now and I just need to let him know that this wasn't because of a mistake by him. He doesn't make mistakes and I wouldn't have anybody else in that car,” he said.
It was a disappointing day for Hamilton in Baku
Image credit: Getty Images
“What I take away is we must bring our A game to fight for this championship, and our car was not there all weekend.
“Operationally we just need to perform faultlessly and all of us haven't done that the last two weekends."
He continued: “We just need to be the best of us, the best that we have, and we haven't given the drivers a competitive package this weekend - far from it.
“It is not only the incident at the end that frustrates, it is overall not meeting our expectations, all of us together - Lewis, the engineers, myself, everyone in the team.
There's just so much we need to improve that I just want to get on it right now to make sure we are able to compete for this championship.
“Because we can't continue losing points like we did in Monaco and here. It's just not acceptable, for all of us.”
'The car was limited' - Hamilton on Baku struggles
Red Bull’s Verstappen remains in the lead for the championship, just four points ahead of Hamilton in second. Verstappen’s team-mate Perez is in third after his win in Azerbaijan.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel finished in second and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took the third spot on the podium.
Verstappen was thankfully not seriously hurt after his car crashed into the concrete wall due to a rear-left puncture.
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