Sebastian Vettel has admitted he was wary of disrupting the championship fight in the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
However, he denied that he deliberately held back from overtaking Nico Rosberg in order to help his compatriot claim the title.
"I wanted to win the race for Ferrari, but I also knew that Lewis and Nico were racing for the title," he said.
"Nico was a little too fast for me on the straight," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "Turn 11 was the best place but Nico did well to defend."
Despite that, many suspect Vettel was deliberately holding back.
"Nico was so close behind Lewis that I could not take full risk, because I could have cleaned him (Hamilton) up as well," Vettel explained. "I did not want to risk a stupid manoeuvre."
The four time champion sympathised with Rosberg, who was backed into Vettel when Hamilton slowed down in the closing stages of the race.
"I would not have wanted to be in Nico's shoes," said Vettel. "Everyone knew that Lewis was up to. He was as slow as a bus, and wanted to drive Nico into us.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing