Montreal, June 10: Lewis Hamilton feels he forced Sebastian Vettel into a crucial mistake at the Canadian Grand Prix and believes the Ferrari driver was punished because he returned to the track on the racing line.
Vettel missed out on the chance for a first victory of the Formula One season on Sunday when, from the lead, he ran wide and came back on track via the grass at turn four in Montreal.
He narrowly avoided contact with Hamilton, and both drivers just missed the wall as the German remained in the lead.
But the incident was promptly investigated by race stewards, who subsequently gave a furious Vettel time penalty of five seconds for unsafely re-joining the track and forcing his rival to take evasive action.
Hamilton therefore won the race despite being the second man across the line, his fifth victory in seven races this season and seventh overall at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, tying Michael Schumacher's record.
"Naturally that's absolutely not the way I wanted to win, I was pushing until the end to try and get past him," Hamilton said after the race.
"Obviously I forced him into an error and he went a bit wide, but then I had the run on that corner and we nearly collided – so that was unfortunate, but this is motor racing."
Told that Vettel believed the decision was unfair, Hamilton replied: "That's his opinion of course. For me obviously I took the corner normally but when you come back on the track you're not supposed to go onto the racing line.
"You're supposed to come back safely, so I assume that is why they [made the decision]."
Hamilton suggested that period of the race was going to be his only chance to get in front of Vettel, who has now gone 15 completed races without a win, the worst stretch of his F1 career.
"Not towards the end, I was struggling with brake temperatures, as we all were," Hamilton said about whether he could have passed Vettel had he needed to over the final laps.
"My tyres were good at that point he made the mistake, so I was as close as I was ever going to be and got that blocking. Then the gap opened up again. "It was hard all the way through, very hard to follow [a driver] here, but it is such a great track. It was so hot, the Canadian weather is hardcore and hard on the brakes, physically I'm destroyed just trying to hold onto Seb."
It was a dramatic weekend for Hamilton, who hit the wall in Friday's FP2 and then saw Mercedes have to race against time to fix an engine issue in the hours before the race.
Nonetheless, he extended his world championship lead to 29 points over team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was fourth behind the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
"I want to say a big thank you to my team because I wouldn't be standing here without the incredible effort from everyone," added Hamilton. "I wouldn't have been able to race as I have if they had not been so diligent."
At the end of the race, Vettel exclaimed on team radio: "No, no, no, no, no, no.
"Seriously you need to be an absolute blind man to think you can go through the grass and then control the car. I was lucky I didn't hit the wall. Where am I supposed to go? This is a wrong world, this is not fair."