Hamilton surprised by Verstappen in practice incident, avoids penalty

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Lewis Hamilton was surprised by the positioning of Max Verstappen as he rejoined the track following a slide in practice at Paul Ricard.

As grip proved hard to find in Le Castellet, the Mercedes was one of several drivers to have a significant moment as he almost lost control between Turns 3 and 4.

Hamilton himself was "surprised I caught" the car as it slid towards the barrier, but while rejoining the track, the Red Bull would come up behind and would run wide on the exit as the two cars came close at the apex.

"I went off, tried to trundle back onto the track away from the racing line, but then naturally you get to the racing line," Lewis explained.

"I was looking in my mirror, but being along the white line, you look behind you and there’s nothing there because Max was quite far on racing line on the other side.

"I was just trying to go slow to stay out of the way, I saw him all of a sudden come round. Luckily I didn’t stop him going into the corner, think he had a big snap on exit.

"It’s practice, sometimes these things happen, it wasn’t intentional or anything like that."

The stewards would investigate but did not penalise.

“Both drivers agreed that the limited rear visibility and the angle of Car No.44 made it difficult for Hamilton to see the approaching car and agreed that Hamilton re-joined slowly," their judgement read.

“The stewards could observe from the onboard video that Hamilton looked in his mirrors at least twice before attempting to re-join the circuit.”

More broadly, Hamilton would end the day second fastest behind teammate Valtteri Bottas and explained why drivers had struggled so much with a lack of grip.

"It’s not been a bad start to the weekend," he surmised.

"It’s odd because we’re all struggling with the grip out there, it’s quite poor. It’s a new surface in a lot of corners, so a lot of sliding and a lot of mistakes out there, even one I made in P2.

"But generally, we’re all in the same boat, but regardless we still have very good pace and we’re just trying to refine the set-up a little bit. But Valtteri was happy in the second session, so it’s just all about small details and working on them for qualifying."