Hamilton describes incident that cost him Belgian GP victory

PUBLISHED: 10:39 09 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:25 26 October 2009

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2008, GP of Belgium,  
22 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes),
 *** Local Caption *** +++ www.hoch-zwei.net +++ copyright: HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap +++

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2008, GP of Belgium, 22 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes), *** Local Caption *** +++ www.hoch-zwei.net +++ copyright: HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap +++

HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap

LEWIS Hamilton has described the controversial incident that saw him stripped of a dramatic Belgian Grand Prix victory at Spa. The 23-year-old from Tewin took the chequered flag at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday following a thrilling finale to a

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2008, GP of Belgium,  
22 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes),
 *** Local Caption *** +++ www.hoch-zwei.net +++ copyright: HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap +++

LEWIS Hamilton has described the controversial incident that saw him stripped of a dramatic Belgian Grand Prix victory at Spa.

The 23-year-old from Tewin took the chequered flag at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday following a thrilling finale to a chaotic rain-hit race.

Hamilton had an exciting tussle with Kimi Raikkonen in the closing laps before eventually crossing the finish line first.

Explaining what happened at the crucial moment on the track with two laps to go, Hamilton said: "When the heavens opened, Kimi was a little cautious under braking and I was able to get really close.

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2008, GP of Belgium,  
22 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes),
 *** Local Caption *** +++ www.hoch-zwei.net +++ copyright: HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap +++

"When I had a look around the outside at the chicane, we almost had an accident, and I needed to steer left to avoid him.

"As we crossed the start/finish line, I left him the space to get back ahead and then managed to get my car up the inside at La Source."

However, the champagne celebrations on the podium soon turned sour when race stewards decided to impose a 25-second penalty on the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver.

They felt he had gained an unfair advantage after cutting the Bus Stop chicane.

That penalty dropped the Formula 1 hero from Herts down to third place behind great title rival Felipe Massa, who was awarded the win, and BMW driver Nick Heidfeld.

McLaren officials have since registered their intention to appeal against the punishment.

Hamilton, however, felt he had no choice but to cross the chicane and take a shortcut.

He said: "To be honest he pushed me wide. I was a little bit ahead and I was on the outside of turn one.

"He could have been fair as I had no room.

"He pushed me to the point where I would either have been on the kerb and crashed into him or have to go on the escape route, so I went on the escape route.

"I understood I had to let him past, so I did.

"I got in his tow and he was ducking and diving left and right and I did the same and managed to get back to the inside of him."

Hamilton doesn't feel he gained an advantage as he conceded position to Raikkonen and let him pass before then overtaking him again.

"I knew that I had to let him past and also the team came over the radio and said 'you have to let him past' which I did," said Hamilton.

"I was accelerating so that I didn't lose too much ground because I thought that would be unfair.

"Fortunately, I got back in his slipstream and again, he moved to the inside and back to the outside and again I dodged him and went up the inside.

"At the apex to the corner he hit me at the back, and that nearly caused me to spin, but fortunately I kept hold of it and went on from there.

"That was a great fight and I don't think there was anything wrong there.

"The rules say you should let him back past, which I did."

After taking the lead, Hamilton had to tip-toe around the wet track in the rain for the last lap.

He said: "It was very, very slippery. I had no temperature in my tyres, just because we had been driving around in the wet for a lap and a half."

Hamilton's remarkable skill in bringing his car home safely first should have been rewarded with 10 points.

Race stewards decided otherwise.

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