Lewis Hamilton says he does not believe he did anything dangerous when defending against Fernando Alonso in last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, though he accepts that there were grounds for a penalty within the regulations.
The McLaren driver had 20 seconds added to his race time as a punishment for changing his line excessively when fending off the Ferrari on the lap before they made contact at Sepang. The penalty dropped Hamilton from seventh to eighth in the results.
"I don't think I was overly defending my position," said Hamilton in China. "I'm a racer, and people want to see racing, they want to see overtaking and I would never in a million years try to put anyone else – or even myself – in danger. I think I've always raced with my heart and I think I've always made pretty smart decisions when it comes to racing and defending.
"When you're defending you have to try and make your car as wide as possible. The rule is basically that you're not allowed to make more than one maneuver to defend, but where they were saying I was defending too much was on the straight, where he actually was 10 or 15 meters behind me, so I wasn't defending a move that he had done.
"But it's how you interpret the rules and you can't do anything about it. But I appreciate all the support I've had [from fans]."
Hamilton had already fallen from third to seventh at Sepang with tire wear issues, so said the penalty was not as frustrating as it would have been had he finished higher up.
"I was already quite far back so it didn't really make any difference to me personally," he said.
The Briton added that he had been encouraged by how close McLaren had gotten to Red Bull in Malaysia, but suspected that this may have been due to Red Bull losing pace rather than McLaren gaining it.
"I think the performance we had in the first and second stints was good, and if I hadn't been stuck behind [Nick] Heidfeld I would have been able to keep very close behind Sebastian [Vettel] and fight at the pit stops.
"Normally you have to open up the cooling, which loses downforce and efficiency. We didn't have to do that. Maybe others had to do that, maybe Red Bull, and in doing so I think they lost a bit of speed. But I think here it's a bit cooler so they should be in top form this weekend, but we've got some upgrades that we're trying to get to work. Hopefully they'll work and enable us to fight, but I definitely plan to be at the front this weekend."