BUDAPEST: Lewis Hamilton hit back at criticism of his driving on Thursday and said he had merely followed his racing instincts in unlapping himself at last weekend's German Grand Prix.
Red Bull's double world champion Sebastian Vettel complained after the race at Hockenheim that the McLaren driver's action had cost him crucial time in a battle for the lead with Ferrari's winner Fernando Alonso.
The German, who finished second but ended up fifth after being demoted for going off track to pass Hamilton's team mate Jenson Button, described the Briton's manoeuvre at the time as "stupid" and "not very nice".
"People have opinions on it, but it doesn't matter whether I'm first or last, I'm a racer," Hamilton told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
"I race my heart out wherever I am.
"Even if I know in the back of my mind that I can't get any points, I'm paid to push at all times, I would expect that if I was a team boss and I know that my team expect that from me," added the 2008 world champion.
Hamilton, who retired in Germany after suffering a puncture that damaged the car, felt sure the fans would understand.
"I would hope that people would expect that from Fernando (Alonso), they would expect that from Sebastian and that's what I did," he said.
"If I had given up...then I would expect to be fired."
Hamilton, who is fifth in the Formula One championship after 10 of the season's 20 races and 62 points behind leader Alonso, said he had no concern about making contact with Vettel last Sunday.
"You know that Sebastian is a smart driver....he wasn't going to do anything stupid and I wasn't going to do anything stupid either," he said.
Vettel said he had not called Hamilton stupid.
"I said it was unnecessary. I was hunting Fernando, it was a couple of laps to the pit stop, and it didn't help me. It probably helped Jenson, but it is racing," he told reporters at the Hungaroring.
"If I say after the race that I thought it was unnecessary, and then it gets quoted that I said he is stupid, then it is quite disappointing," added the 25-year-old.