LEWIS HAMILTON admits being a good sportsman could come back to haunt him in the F1 title race.
The Brit obeyed team orders to allow his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to clinch third place in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton had to settle for fourth spot and, as a result of Sebastian Vettel‘s win, means he is now 14 points adrift of the German.
It was a bold call by his Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, who labelled the decision to swap his two drivers around was “f****** tough” and left him feeling “crap.”
Hamilton said: “I want to win the championship the right way and I don’t know whether that will come back to bite me on the backside or not.
“But I said at the beginning of the year, I want to win it the right way. I do think that letting Valtteri go back in front was the right way to do things.
“I was the quicker car and the team were in a difficult position, but it really shows that I am a man of my word and also that I am a team player.
“It shows unity in the team. In life, if you do good things, good things do come round back to you.
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“If I lose the world championship I don’t know what I would say then, but I want to win it the right way.”
Hamilton started in fourth place and was already grumbling before the start about the high temperatures at the Hungaroring.
He made a poor start, dropping a position before losing radio contact with his team, while they lost all telemetry, forcing him to make an early pitstop.
While Mercedes struggled to get online, the Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who was second, were able to stretch their advantage until they too suffered a mechanical problem.
This time it was on Vettel’s car, as he complained that his steering wheel was not on straight, presumably knocked out of line by running on the kerbs.
The German’s crooked steering made life tricky but he was given a massive helping hand by Raikkonen, who acted as his rear gunner.
The Finn was quicker but ordered to stay behind the championship leader as he was denied his first win since the Australian GP in 2013.
Hamilton did have a crack at Raikkonen when he was allowed to pass by Bottas on lap 47, but he could not find a way past and in a dramatic end they swapped places on the final lap.
It was payback for Bottas doing the same in Bahrain and Wolff hailed Hamilton’s decision to cooperate after he gave the Brit what he called “a gentle suggestion.”
Wolff said: “There was not any discussions. It was very sportsman-like behaviour and similar to what Valtteri did before.
“It was certainly a difficult decision for the team and for me but these values won us six championships and it will make us win more championships in years to come.
“It cost us three points and could cost us the championship and we are perfectly conscious of that.
“But in terms of how the drivers and this team operates, we stick to what we say and if the consequences are as much as losing the championship, then we will take it.
“Saying I wouldn’t regret the decision would be very naive.
“The truth is that if you miss out on the title by two or three points everybody would say it is because of Budapest and I would be the first one to shoot myself in the knee.
“But standing by your values is what is going to make us win more championships.”
Mercedes’s decision marks a contrast to Ferrari, who kept Raikkonen in second place to preserve their golden boy in front.
A decision that ultimately worked to get them a one-two finish while Raikkonen’s obedience will go some way to rubber-stamping his new deal with the team, which is imminent.
Paul Di Resta was forced to retire his Williams on his return to F1 with 10 laps to go.
The Brit, who was standing in for Felipe Massa, who has a virus, was running in 18th place at the time.
He said: “I was very cautious but I just wanted to make sure I got through the first lap I wanted to make use of what track time I had.
“It is a shame we couldn’t get to the end of the race but an oil leak stopped us.”
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso put McLaren Honda’s woes behind them, albeit temporarily, as he set the fastest lap time and came home in sixth place while his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne also scored points.
He said: “The fastest lap at the end of the race was a surprise – a gift, but one we’ll take. We can go into the summer break with smiles on our faces.”
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