• Italian Grand Prix

Lewis admits he got 'caught napping'

ESPNF1 Staff
September 11, 2011
Lewis Hamilton dropped to fourth after the safety car © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton admitted he got "caught napping" after the safety car period at the Italian Grand Prix, which meant he fell behind Michael Schumacher and lost out on a chance to fight Sebastian Vettel.

A first corner pile-up prompted the safety car to come out on track on the first lap after both Hamilton and Vettel dropped positions to Fernando Alonso. Hamilton was then in a position to attack the Red Bull but was dropped by the lead pair as the safety car returned to the pits and instead lost a position to Schumacher's Mercedes.

"At the restart [after the safety car] Michael was on the outside of me so I was looking at him in my mirrors and before I knew it the guys had gone. I missed an opportunity to slipstream Sebastian and they caught me napping," he told BBC Sport. "But once I finally got past [Schumacher] I had fun chasing Fernando."

He added: "It was a good race, I got some points and I finished so I can't really complain,"

After losing a place to Schumacher, Hamilton then spent the next 16 laps trying to claim the position back. The McLaren ended up on the grass on one occasion and Schumacher defended hard in the braking zones, but when asked how he saw the battle, Hamilton said: "That's racing."

And asked if Schumacher was within the rules he simply said: "Sure."

He added that the main problem was the Mercedes straight-line speed but played down suggestions his McLaren was setup to fight the Red Bulls.

"We weren't focusing on anyone, that's as fast as we could go," he said. "We just lost it a little bit on the straights and that's why I couldn't get past Michael, but otherwise it was pretty good.

"I doubt it's still possible to beat Sebastian for the title, but we'll keep pushing. For now, I'm looking ahead to the flyaways - they're going to be exciting and I'm really focused on getting some more wins for the team."