Lewis Hamilton says he wanted whatever Toto Wolff was smoking after the Austrian told him he could win the Hungarian GP over the team radio.
It looked like Hamilton would cruise to victory in Budapest after team-mate Valtteri Bottas took himself and Sergio Perez out of the race at the start and also caused Max Verstappen to pick up severe damage.
However, the Mercedes driver then went from first to last at the restart as he, unlike every other driver, opted not to pit for dry tyres immediately, thus dropping behind everyone.
At that point, a win seemed unlikely, but he ultimately came close to doing so, with only the defensive efforts of Fernando Alonso preventing him from catching the front two before the end.
Wolff told Hamilton that a victory was still possible fairly early on, and it’s fair to say the Brit didn’t believe him at the time.
“He’s got a great heart, Toto,” Hamilton said in the press conference after the race.
“But with all due respect, when I got the call, I was like, I want whatever they’re smoking at the end of this race!
“Because you guys [Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel] were so far ahead and I had to make another pit stop at the same time and I was like, impossible to catch you guys…”
Took a Champion’s drive to fight back to P3! 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/u0OODj8vh5
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) August 1, 2021
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More often than not, it is Peter Bonnington, more commonly known as Bono, that is the one talking to Hamilton on the radio, with Wolff only doing so when it is particularly important.
The seven-time World Champion says that such messages from his boss do help motivate him while he’s racing, reminding him that he’s not alone.
“When you’re out there it can definitely seem lonely at some stages, you know,” he added.
“And sometimes you’ve got such tunnel vision that it’s like ten laps, it’s like a light year. It’s just so much time has gone by in that period of time, it feels like you’re travelling through time,
“It’s a very, very strange experience and then you forget that people are on the other line, so it’s nice to be reminded that they’re there.”
Hamilton’s P3 finish gave him the lead of the standings heading into the summer break, and it looks set to be even bigger as Sebastian Vettel is most likely to be disqualified, promoting the Brit to P2 – as the current FIA race classification shows.
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