Hamilton on Perez clash: It was a racing incident

The Brit disagreed with the penalty he was hit with for making contact with Sergio Perez during the Belgian GP Sprint

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Lewis Hamilton believes his clash with Sergio Perez during a damp 2023 Belgian Grand Prix Sprint race didn’t warrant the five-second penalty he was assessed.

The Brit appeared quicker in the second half of the shootout that was cut from 15 to 11 laps after a weather delay and dangerous track conditions and attempted a pass up the inside of the Mexican into Turn 15.

Hamilton was almost fully alongside at the apex but drifted towards the outside and made contact with the Red Bull driver, who subsequently retired due to the extent of the damage.

While many saw it as a racing incident, the stewards slapped Hamilton with the penalty which demoted him from fourth to seventh.

Explaining the incident, he told Sky F1: “He was pretty slow and he went wide through [Turn] 14 and I got a great exit.

“I was more than half a car alongside him and we just ended up coming together.

“I think it was a bit of a racing incident really. Naturally, it wasn’t intentional but they saw it differently.

“It’s very tricky conditions out there so we’re all trying our best but to be honest it doesn’t really make much difference.

“Fourth or seventh in a Sprint race, because you don’t get a lot of points, it’s not the worst thing in the world.”

Hamilton happy with Mercedes pace

The seven-time world champion was adamant he was in contention for pole in the Sprint but for a late mix-up with his team-mate George Russell.

Hamilton has had the better of Russell all weekend and admitted he has found comfort in the W14 in its current guise.

It’s little wonder then he’s looking forward to the GP when he will start third following Max Verstappen’s penalty.

“Our pace has generally been decent,” Hamilton added.

“Today over a single lap, without the incident at the end, we would have been fighting for the front row I think.

“We would have been right up there with Max I think.

“It wasn’t meant to be but third tomorrow. I think I’ve got a Ferrari and Perez [ahead] so I’m hoping I’ll be able to fight those guys.

“At some stage Max will come sailing by and I’ll just try and keep the McLarens behind me.”

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