Hamilton was 'too friendly' with Bottas at the start

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Lewis Hamilton says he should have been more ruthless when going wheel-to-wheel with his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas at the start of the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton got the better launch from the grid, but a patient Bottas used the advantage of pole position and the better outside line to keep hold of the lead.

"I didn't get the job done in qualifying, he did," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 after the end of the Grand Prix. "And in the race, I was too friendly at turn 1 and basically gave it to him.

"It is very difficult [to get the balance right]," he added. "Ultimately you always have to remember when you’re a team as a big as this, you’re only one [part].

"Selfishly I could have pushed a lot harder. I could have gained, he would have lost, and maybe lost to a Ferrari. So while I wanted to overtake, I had to be cautious so we could block the front row.

"We did that and sometimes that is a sacrifice you have to make if you want to win. If it was a Ferrari there [running alongside] it would be different."

In fact that echoed Bottas' own thoughts on the start, the Finn likewise admitting that he himself had also been "a tiny bit too cautious" in the opening corners.

But there were no sour grapes from the reigning world champion, who sounded genuinely delighted that Bottas had finally clinched the victory that he had been cruelly denied him 12 months ago by a late-race puncture.

“Valtteri [and I], we’ve always had respect for each other. We discussed it before the race. We’re real gentlemen!

"Valtteri did a better job in qualifying and that put him in position to fight," he pointed out. "He drove a fantastic race and made no mistakes, so he deserved the win,"

"Valtteri did an exceptional job this weekend, he truly deserves it," he continued. "[He] has clearly stepped up this year. He is really happy with the car, really delivering, driving fantastic. It’s going to take fantastic performances to outperform each other.

"[It was] an under-par performance from myself, so I just need to work harder," he added. "I just struggle here. I can't really point it out. I got quicker at the end, but it was too late by then.

"This is not our strongest race in the season. It's always been a difficult race for me, so this is a really good result considering. And it's a fantastic result for the team.

"It takes 100 per cent delivery through the weekend, we are close to that. Ferrari are going to have to figure it out if they want to fight us."

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the post race FIA Press Conference. 28.04.2019.

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