Ex-Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert believes the amount of criticism Lewis Hamilton received for colliding with George Russell on the opening lap of the Qatar Grand Prix was “not fair”, with it having simply been a lapse in “judgement”.
Hamilton collided with Russell at the first corner at the Lusail International Circuit whilst trying to swoop around the outside of his team-mate, something which ended with his right-rear tyre clipping Russell’s front wing.
Both drivers span as a result, with Hamilton having lost a wheel on his way to becoming beached in the gravel trap, where he retired from the race.
Russell was able to resume; albeit, at the back of the grid.
The 25-year-old did well to recover to fourth, although a double Mercedes podium was on the cards prior to the costly collision.
It was investigated by the stewards but was deemed to be nothing more than a racing incident, although Hamilton later accepted “full responsibility” for causing the accident.
Whilst no penalty was awarded for this, the 38-year-old was fined and slapped with a reprimand for crossing a live circuit, to get back to the pits afterwards.
Herbert admitted that crossing the track was the “wrong thing to do” by the 103-time race winner, with that incident being reinvestigated by the FIA amid concerns that Hamilton’s role model status will make younger drivers think crossing a live circuit is acceptable.
However, Herbert is insistent that the criticism Hamilton’s received for the incident with Russell is unjust, given how “very few mistakes” the Briton has made since making his debut in 2007.
“He is definitely a role model,” Herbert told Lucky Block. “However, walking across the track was the wrong thing to do. He knows that rule is there.
“The criticisms levelled against him for the accident with Russell going into turn one was not fair. That was part of racing.
“He only needed to give another six inches for it to be absolutely fine. But his judgment was not quite there.
“That goes back to my point about the human element. Even a seven times world champion makes mistakes. Even the best have made mistakes.
“And Lewis has made very few mistakes in his career. I’d struggle to count them on the fingers of one hand.
“Sometimes I just think the sport should just let the drivers, race let them get on with it without making so many rules which interfere with the trace itself.”