Lewis Hamilton feels his fightback to second in the British Grand Prix was “huge” for Mercedes after minimising race winner Sebastian Vettel’s championship gain.
Hamilton’s charge meant British GP victor Vettel extended his lead at the top to only eight points, despite Hamilton dropping to 18th on the opening lap thanks to a hit from Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
“We’re in a tough battle this year and it’s the most intense battle that I think we’ve probably all had,” said Hamilton.
“I’m very, very grateful that the car was still in one piece after the first turn three incident.
“Whilst I appeared, at the beginning, to have lost something on the rear end, when I looked at the car afterwards it seems to be OK and it was driving better and better throughout the race, so that was a great thing.
“Honestly, to get back to second it’s huge for us. I will definitely take it, of course, and I’m happy with the drive that I did.”
Hamilton’s initial messages to Mercedes over the team radio about the incident were slightly disjointed and a mix of dejection over the contact and concern over damage to his car.
His engineer Peter Bonnington attempted to reassure the four-time world champion on both counts, telling him the car looked fine and that he would be able to fight back.
Asked post-race if he thought an 18-point haul was possible after the start, Hamilton replied: “Yes. I had to have that mentality.
“I was last and I still believed I could win. I had to keep that mentality to get back to where I was.”