Lewis Hamilton backtracks on ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ after helter-skelter Hungary pole finish

Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton was vocal about his views on the “gentleman’s agreement” following the intense drama that unfolded during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

In a post-qualifying press conference, Hamilton backed his teammate George Russell’s claim about the absence of a true gentleman’s agreement on the track.

Lewis Hamilton. Credit: cnn.com
Lewis Hamilton. Credit: cnn.com

The new qualifying format, known as the ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ (ATA), and the specific tyre compounds assigned for each section of qualifying added an extra layer of complexity to the already high-pressure session.

The Drama that Unfolded

The Hungaroring witnessed a unique trial format for the first time, where drivers received 11 sets of slick tyres instead of the usual 13 for the entire race weekend.

Furthermore, the tyre compounds were predetermined, with drivers using the hard tyres in Q1, mediums in Q2, and softs in Q3.

As drivers scrambled to set their fastest lap times, the pressure mounted, and the absence of a gentleman’s agreement became apparent.

George Russell, unfortunately, found himself eliminated in Q1 due to heavy traffic and cars positioning themselves for a final flying lap.

While some might have expected Russell to reference the gentleman’s agreement, he instead blamed his team, Mercedes, for placing him in that difficult situation.

Russell emphasized the importance of prioritizing oneself at times, reflecting the competitive nature of the sport.

Hamilton’s Take on the Gentleman’s Agreement

When asked about the existence of a gentleman’s agreement, Hamilton concurred with Russell’s perspective.

He made it clear that there has never truly been a formal agreement among drivers. While drivers aim to be respectful, the pressure and time constraints during qualifying often lead to a frantic rush to set the fastest lap times.

“We try to be respectful always, but I think in that moment everyone’s panicking trying to get their laps [in],” Hamilton said.

The Every Man for Himself Mentality

Lando Norris, the McLaren driver and fellow Brit, echoed the sentiment of prioritizing one’s own performance during qualifying.

Norris highlighted that drivers leave significant gaps between themselves and the cars ahead in search of clear air, often causing self-inflicted problems.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Credit: planetf1.com
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Credit: planetf1.com

“I had to get my lap in, my lap got taken away [for track limits],” Norris said in response to Hamilton’s comments.

“It was like a race out there. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, I had to get a lap in. Everyone leaves such big gaps, I started my lap like two seconds behind George and it was good enough still for like a P8 or something, and that was on my second lap on the tyre.

“People just try and leave such such big gaps, at some point they screw themselves over and cause themselves a problem. I made the most of it today and did what I had to do to get my lap in.”

Hamilton agreed with Norris, embracing the “every man for himself” mentality. Max Verstappen, the reigning World Champion who shares the front row with Hamilton, also echoed these sentiments.

Verstappen acknowledged that when time is running out, drivers must take action to avoid being disadvantaged.

Normally when you have enough time, everyone kind of just follows each other for most of it, but at that point, yeah, there were some that still needed to get a lap in, and then you know that if you’re not going, you will get effed,” Verstappen said.

“So you have to go, otherwise you will be the one who is getting screwed over in the last corner and that creates that big of a mess.

“Sometimes it happens, I guess most of the time it works out for you, and sometimes it bites you.”

The Strategy and Mindset of Drivers

The unique qualifying format and the absence of a gentleman’s agreement have forced drivers to adapt their strategies and adopt a more individualistic mindset.

The pressure to secure a fast lap time within the limited opportunities available has intensified the competition on the track. Each driver must find the right balance between respect for other competitors and maximizing their own performance.

Lewis Hamilton and max Verstappen. Credit: crash.net
Lewis Hamilton and max Verstappen. Credit: crash.net

Lewis Hamilton’s comments on the gentleman’s agreement and the drama during qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix shed light on the intense pressure and competitive nature of Formula 1. As drivers strive to secure their fastest lap times, the absence of a formal agreement becomes evident.

The unique qualifying format and the assigned tyre compounds added an extra layer of complexity, leading to a more individualistic approach.

While drivers aim to be respectful, the desire to perform at their best often overrides any unwritten agreements. As the competition continues, it remains to be seen how drivers will navigate these challenges and strive for success.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton warms up to idea of reuniting with former teammate Fernando Alonso despite infamous rivalry

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