McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives with a burst tire during the German F1 Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring in Hockenheim July 22, 2012. Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain won the race ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany and McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)

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”.

“I race my heart out wherever I am.”

Hamilton told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix: “People have opinions on it, but it doesn't matter whether I'm first or last, I'm a racer.

“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,” he added.

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.”

“You know that Sebastian is a smart driver.”

The 2008 champion, who is fifth in this year’s standings 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.

“He wasn't going to do anything stupid and I wasn't about 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,” he added. - Reuters