Formula One: Hamilton on collision course with Massa again
Published 31/10/2011 | 05:00
The feud which has been simmering all season between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa boiled over once again in India yesterday after the McLaren and Ferrari drivers collided for a fifth time.
Not only did the pair disagree over who was at fault for the incident on lap 24 -- for which Massa earned a drive-through penalty -- but the Brazilian rejected Hamilton's claim afterwards he had attempted to patch things up between them on the grid before the race.
Hamilton told reporters he had put his arm around Massa after the one-minute silence in memory of British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, who died on successive weekends leading up to yesterday's race, and wished his Ferrari rival luck.
Massa, though, said Hamilton's effort at reconciliation was insufficient and recalled a previous perceived snub he had received at the Briton's hands as proof that Hamilton was not interested in a serious reunion.
"No, he didn't try," Massa said. "When I tried to speak to him (after a clash in Singapore) he passed through. He didn't look at my face.
"Here after the minute's silence he just said 'have a good race'. This is trying to what? 'Have a good race' is not part of talking or whatever."
It is unclear what Hamilton made of Massa's remarks since the 26-year-old left the circuit early on the advice of McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, without fulfilling all of his media commitments.
Simon Fuller, Hamilton's manager, was also present in the McLaren motor home and was likely consulted. But it was clear from Hamilton's initial reaction that he is weary of the quarrel with Massa and desperately wants to be able to put both it and the whole season behind him.
"Disappointed would be an understatement," he said of a race in which he started fifth and then recovered from the Massa incident to finish seventh, five places below McLaren team-mate Jenson Button who now leads him by 38 points with two races of the season remaining.
"We were clearly quick enough -- Jenson did a great job. I just can't apologise enough to my team for the negativity that surrounds me nowadays." Hamilton cannot catch a break at the moment. After his encouraging second place in Korea at the previous race, he had arrived in India determined to put his recent woes behind him.
He said his main goal was to put his high-profile split with American pop star Nicole Scherzinger out of his mind and stay "focused on business".
Yet it was almost inevitable, from the moment he closed in on Massa's Ferrari after 23 laps of yesterday's inaugural Indian Grand Prix, that the pair would end up colliding. Their cars seem almost magnetically attracted to one other this year.
Hamilton has been far from blameless -- earning two drive-through penalties to Massa's one -- but yesterday he could consider himself deeply unfortunate.
Attempting to pass Massa up the inside into Turn Five, he looked to have done enough only for the Brazilian to turn in on him. The stewards' panel, which included former British driver Johnny Herbert, sided with Hamilton and awarded Massa a drive-through penalty, which the Ferrari driver felt was harsh.
Asked whether there was bad blood between himself and the Briton, Massa added: "Maybe for him. Because all the incidents are that he touched my car. I have nothing against him. Zero. Zero."
Hamilton also denied he held any grudge, saying his major concern was cutting out the mistakes which are costing him, such as his failure to slow down under double yellow flags in practice on Friday, which resulted in him dropping from second to fifth on the grid.
"I should have been second on the grid and I wouldn't have been anywhere near Felipe if that was the case," he said.
"But (as for Felipe) no, before the race, during the minute's silence we were standing next to each other -- and he hasn't spoken to me for a long, long time -- and I put my arm around him and wished him good luck for the race. He hasn't spoken to me for months now, so I wanted to quash whatever beef, or any anger he has towards me. I still respect him."
Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, is just two victories shy of equalling a record many thought would never be touched after his latest triumph.
For the first time in his career the Red Bull star achieved Formula One's grand slam of pole, win, fastest lap and leading for every single lap, to further underline his dominant campaign.
In the end, Vettel finished a comfortable 8.4 seconds ahead of Button in his McLaren to take the chequered flag for the 11th time this season, to leave him two wins shy of Michael Schumacher's 2004 mark of 13, with two races to go. (© Daily Telegraph, London)