Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says he rejected the idea that his grand prix was over after he slid off the track while lapping George Russell at Imola.
The reigning World Champion was chasing race-leader Max Verstappen when he moved onto a wet section of the track at Turn 7 to get past Russell, which resulted in a loss of grip and a venture into the gravel.
Hamilton damaged his front wing in the process and went a lap down as he recovered from the incident. However, he gained back the lap due to a red flag period that followed a crash between Russell and Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
After the restart, Hamilton battled his way through the pack to reclaim second place with four laps to go.
“Definitely in that moment for me, I don’t make too many mistakes, and it was gutting to be in that position but I honestly feel like these things happen for a reason,” Hamilton said.
“The others did a fantastic job but I remember just sitting there looking at the barrier and I refused to think the race was over.
“I refused to believe that the race was done. I could have obviously just turned the car off and got out but I’m grateful that I did the reverse.
“After that, getting out of the car and just trying to switch the anger and turn it into positive energy so I can get back in and turn it forwards, that’s an amazing lesson to be sent and to experience.”
Hamilton added that his lengthy emergence from the gravel was down to struggling to engage reverse gear.
“It just wouldn’t go to reverse. I was holding the reverse button and it took forever to engage,” Hamilton said.
“I didn’t think it was going to work. I tried reversing and tried to do a burnout spin to get going but ended up back in the barrier.
“It took a long time to get it back into reverse. When I was reversing, I was like ‘I’ve just got to keep going backwards’ and work my way out in reverse. If I hadn’t done that I would probably still be there.”