Faced with the barriers on the Imola track, Louis Hamilton could feel the race and potentially slip away from the title.
The world champion had gone wide through the gravel trap and crashed into the barriers in the 31st lap of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.
It was as if his race was over, but after a long delay, Hamilton managed to get back on track and rejoin the race. He was in ninth place, but a stunning drive saw him cross the field to finish second.
“I definitely didn’t know I would be here when I faced this barrier,” Hamilton told a news conference after the first race for the first three finalists.
“We are just people, so it was this mistake that we learned from. I’m just grateful I was able to go again and get back in the race. It’s not how you fall; this is how you get up. Really great to come back in second place. “
Hamilton said he enjoyed the fight and that it took him back to his roots, to his early karting days.
And the British driver’s ability to deal with adversity can be an important weapon in his bid for a record eighth World Cup title – where he can be pressed closer than ever this season.
“I think in life, when you’re experiencing some form of adversity in terms of challenges or mistakes and adversity, or any barriers you have to overcome, it’s always more satisfying when you overcome them,” Hamilton said.
“It’s not your mistakes that determine you, not how you fall, but how you come back. I sincerely feel that these things are happening for some reason. . . I remember just sitting there, looking at the barrier and refusing to think the race was over. I refused to believe that the race was done. Obviously I could just turn off the car and get out, but I’m thankful I didn’t. “
If Hamilton had turned off his car, he would be at least 18 points behind Max Verstappen after the Red Bull driver made it easier to win the second race of the season.
As Red Bull looked with a faster car, Hamilton admitted that it would deal a significant blow to his chances for the title – even at this early stage of the season.
But Hamilton’s perseverance saw him even maintain his lead at the top of the standings after winning a bonus point for the fastest lap. The Mercedes driver, who won the season opener in Bahrain last month, is one point ahead of Verstappen. “Without a doubt, coming back in second place and getting those points today will be very valuable during the season,” Hamilton said.
“If I had lost 25 points today, it would have been difficult to recover with the fact that Red Bull, for the first time, have a championship car, their car is incredibly fast.
“But we have a real close battle, which we like is a close battle. . . so there will be many exciting races ahead and challenging for all of us in so many different ways. “
Next on the calendar with 23 races is the GP of Portugal on May 2.