F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Former F1 world champion Hill said he thought Perez’s strong restart could have been the reason for his crucial mistake in Baku.
Max Verstappen brought out the red flag in the closing stages of the race after suffering a tyre failure that spun him out of the lead of the race and into the wall with five laps remaining.
After a pause as Verstappen’s stricken Red Bull was cleared, and with the Dutchman trudging back to the pits, race control opted for a standing restart, with Perez leading the way and Hamilton just behind him in second.
As the lights went out, Hamilton looked to sweep past the side of Perez with a clean run into Turn 1, as he looked to take full advantage and reclaim the lead of the championship.
But all his hard work came undone at the seams as the seven-time world champion locked up his front tyres and went cascading down the escape road, tumbling down the order in a two-lap sprint race to the finish.
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Perez went on to win the race, with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel second and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly third, with Hamilton coming across the line in a non-scoring P15.
After the race, it was revealed that Hamilton had accidentally pressed a ‘magic button’ on his steering wheel, deploying a system that helps warm up tyres and brakes during formation laps and safety car restarts.
Speaking to his engineers, Hamilton said: “Did I leave the ‘magic’ on? I could have sworn I turned that off.”
Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, the 1996 world champion questioned what exactly had happened with Hamilton to make such an uncharacteristic mistake, and thought perhaps it was down to Perez’s performance.
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“I’m going to mention Perez because he did a fantastic job,” Hill said.
“On the restart, he really made Lewis jump and I was surprised by how aggressively, and I think Lewis was probably really surprised, by how aggressive Perez was going to defend.
“It’s quite easy to imagine that in his [Hamilton’s] quick reaction, it was possible for him to flick a button and that’s it.
“That’s clearly what happened, he’s gone in deep and the brakes weren’t working.”
With no points scored by either of the two title protagonists, Verstappen continues to lead the way heading into Paul Ricard in two weeks’ time, with Red Bull stretching their lead at the top of the team standings by 26 points, thanks to Perez’s victory.
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