Hamilton Explains Why He Didn't Fight Verstappen For Win In China Sprint

Sunday, 21 April 2024 at 00:00
verstappenhamilton redbull rbcp4
Lewis Hamilton, who finished second in the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint race, explained why he didn't battle Max Verstappen at all.
The Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton started the first sprint race of the 2024 season from second place on the grid with an inside line for turn number one.
The seven-time World Champion got an incredible launch and was able to put down power much better than Lando Norris in P1, which meant he was already leading before the first corner.
Norris tried to get his position back as he wanted to go around the outside on the 39-year-old, but that didn't work out well for him as he lost grip on the wet part of the track and slid into the run-off area, losing six positions.
This meant the seven-time World Champion led the race after the first corner of the opening lap. He was then closely chased by Fernando Alonso but managed to break away from the Spaniard in a few laps.
However, triple World Champion Max Verstappen, who started from P4, made his way through the field rather quickly and started approaching the Mercedes driver very fast.
Hamilton's engineer informed the Briton that the Dutchman was approaching him, to which he responded on the team radio: "I know. Leave me to it, man."
At that point, it seemed like the seven-time World Champion planned to put up some resistance. However, once the 26-year-old driver caught up with him, he didn't defend him at all.
Asked after the Sprint Race why he didn't battle the Red Bull Racing driver, the seven-time World Champion explained:

"I think you saw… Max, I didn't even put up a fight for Max because he was coming at a serious pace advantage that I knew he would he would get me and I really wanted to make sure I didn't lose time to the cars further behind so I could retain second."

Hamilton suggested that Verstappen would inevitably overtake him, so it made more sense for him to let the Dutchman pass and lose as little time as possible.
He turned out to be right as Verstappen put a gap of 13 seconds between himself and the 39-year-old Mercedes driver in the remaining ten laps of the Sprint race.