Lewis Hamilton has squashed suggestions that he has made more mistakes this season, admitting to Imola but insisting Baku wasn’t on him.
This year’s championship is proving to be one of the toughest Hamilton has had to endure, the Briton going wheel-to-wheel with Max Verstappen.
And there’s a lot at stake, for both drivers.
While Verstappen is chasing his first World title, Hamilton is after the record for the most Drivers’ Championships.
Currently tied with Michael Schumacher on seven, an eight means he’ll have three biggest records in the sport: most grands prix wins, most pole positions and most World titles.
The pressure has, according to some pundits, led to more mistakes from Hamilton than ever before.
His first big one of the season was at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when he slid into the gravel at Tosa while trying to lap the Williams of George Russell.
Hamilton was able to rejoin the race while a red flag meant Mercedes were also able to patch up his car.
Asked if he felt he was making more mistakes this season, the reigning World Champion told Auto Motor und Sport: “In Imola I knew that I couldn’t lose another seven points. In retrospect, you could perhaps say that I was too impatient and too aggressive.
“I can tell you that it was painful when I drove into the gravel.
“If only I had been a little more patient with the laps. But at that moment I was only thinking of catching up with Max.
“That was not good. That was a clear mistake.”
His Baku one though, he says wasn’t a mistake so much as an issue with the car.
With Verstappen crashing out of the lead when his tyre blew, Hamilton had a golden opportunity to take points off the Red Bull driver.
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s a marathon not a sprint.”
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) June 6, 2021
Lining up P2 after the red flag, Hamilton tried to take the lead into Turn 1 but accidentally pressed the wrong button, selecting the wrong brake mode.
He went flying off the circuit and dropped down the order, finishing P15. It ended his run of 54 races inside the points.
He said: “When I look at Baku, I don’t see it as a driving mistake. That was more of a problem with the car. This mistake had to happen at some point.
“There was no border around the “Magic Button”, the button that deactivates the brakes on the rear axle so that the front brakes and tyres can be heated up more quickly.
“I’ve always positioned my hand when operating the clutch so that that I don’t downshift by mistake. Then the button was activated when swiping over. And I had no idea about it.
“That was a mistake, but it wasn’t a driving mistake. It was just unfortunate. As a result, I lost a lot of points that I will never get back. We made changes afterwards so that it wouldn’t happen again.”
He also tagged the pit lane wall in Russia with former F1 driver David Coulthard saying at the time: “That is the remarkable thing, you don’t really see him drop the ball massively, lots of little incidents, but it shows he’s under pressure.”