Lewis Hamilton has defended Sebastian Vettel's mistake at the Bahrain Grand Prix, saying the German's great performances outweigh his recent errors.
Vettel spun in Sakhir shortly after being passed by Hamilton despite there being no contact between the two cars. That spin ruined his tyres, causing vibrations in the car that resulted in his front wing being torn off, forcing him into a recovery drive to fifth position after his pit-stop.
It followed a series of mistakes that cost Vettel the 2018 title -- which included crashing out of the lead of the German Grand Prix and multiple spins throughout the season -- and prompted questions about the four-time world champion's temperament. The spin also came at a race Vettel's Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc should have claimed a maiden Formula One win, only to be cruelly denied late on by engine trouble.
Hamilton thinks people have been far too harsh on his chief rival.
When asked whether he felt Vettel had been rattled by Leclerc's pace, Hamilton said, "It's not that it plays on your mind, it happens to all of us. Just because you're a four-time champion doesn't mean you're not going to have off-weekends.
"It's more cumulative. If you look at Vettel's career, he's had stunning performances that far more outweigh the weaker races, and when he's spun, for example, they are minuscule on the status that he's accumulated and created. There are always times where you happen to just not get the right car set-up.
"You guys don't get to see all these little things that we're doing, and it just doesn't happen to work that weekend. And the differences are so small, and yet they look so big."
Ferrari's dominant pace in Bahrain was in stark contrast to the opening race, the Australian Grand Prix, when the Italian team had been a long way off the pace of Mercedes. Hamilton does not know the reason behind that change, but he is certain Vettel will come back from his most recent setback even stronger than before.
"I don't know why their car was so different in pace. I've had races, I remember looking back, me and Nico [Rosberg] in Barcelona were quick in testing and then there were massive differences in the car in the race and you're driving with your hands behind your back thinking you've got no grip. Then another race it's the other way.
"I don't know why that happens, but [Bahrain] was one of those for him. But he's a world champion, a great athlete, he will recover, keep pushing."