Saturday 24 March 2018

Hamilton's style 'could cause death'

Tom Cary, in Montreal

Lewis Hamilton's attacking style was under fresh scrutiny last night - but it was his countryman Jenson Button who was singing in the rain after a stunning late surge secured the Canadian Grand Prix.

Button had earlier been involved in a crash with team-mate Hamilton and looked set for a frustrating day as Sebastien Vettel led going into the last lap. However, a mistake by the German allowed the 2009 world champion through for victory.

Earlier, three-time world champion Niki Lauda warned that if Hamilton continues to drive as he has been doing "it will result in someone getting killed". The McLaren driver crashed out just eight laps after a collision with Button.

Stewards were still deliberating last night over whether or not to punish him as the race was suspended because of torrential rain. Hamilton had already escaped punishment earlier in a chaotic rain-affected race after a collision with Red Bull's Mark Webber.

Lauda called on the governing body to set an example.

"What Hamilton did there goes beyond all boundaries," the Austrian said during his commentary on the German station RTL. "He is completely mad. If the FIA does not punish him, I do not understand the world anymore. At some point there has to be an end to all the jokes. You cannot drive like this -- as it will result in someone getting killed."

Hamilton's criticism of his fellow drivers and race stewards following two collisions at the Monaco Grand Prix a fortnight ago caused outrage, and these latest incidents are sure to add fuel to the debate.

Hamilton complained in Monaco that he had been in to see the stewards five times in six races, joking ill-advisedly that they might be targeting him "because I am black."


The 26-year-old managed to keep his cool rather better this time around, and there was some sympathy for him given the conditions.

"I felt that I was at least halfway alongside him," Hamilton said of his collision with Button. "Jenson made a mistake going into the final corner so I was able to get a better exit, and was coming down the outside of him.

"I don't know if he could see me or not, but he just kept coming over and over."

BBC pundit David Coulthard did not see it that way, however, saying: "If that's Lewis' idea of halfway I wouldn't want to share my chocolate bar with him. Lauda's comments came after two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, a race steward in Monaco, had earlier waded into the debate himself.

"I think Lewis is an exceptional talent, a world champion, but sometimes he is too aggressive when he tries to overtake," the 1972 and '74 champion said. "It was like that in Monaco with Felipe (Massa), placing half of the car in the sidewalk and putting Felipe in a difficult position, at least.

"He put Felipe in a dangerous position, really. I think there has to be a limit for being aggressive, respecting the others and still being competitive. You can be competitive, but you have to respect the others."

Hamilton argues that his aggressive driving is exactly what fans are after, saying that sees no difference between the way that he goes about fighting his rivals and the way his hero Ayrton Senna did. Fittipaldi, however, thinks that Senna had more respect for his opponents.

"Ayrton used to be a very aggressive driver, but I don't remember seeing him doing what Lewis did, not only in Monaco, but if you turn back three years ago, in the Belgium Grand Prix, in Spa," continued Fittipaldi.

"There he did some very critical manoeuvres with (Kimi) Raikkonen.

"That sort of aggressive overtaking is not a normal thing to do.

"I think he is spectacular. From the viewers' point of view it is cool to have a spectacular driver on the grid, it is part of the show, but you have to respect the other drivers. When you lack respect and put others in a risky position, it is wrong."

Hamilton did receive some support from an unlikely source, though, with Michael Schumacher jumping to his defence, claiming he would not have punished him for the incident with Massa in Monaco.

"(In) Monaco we know it is very difficult to pass and if somebody doesn't want it, then it is very hard to avoid a collision," said Schumacher. "I guess, in two of the four cases he passed people, two didn't want it and two accepted it.

"It is a tough situation to be perfectly right. You will always find one or the other opinion on that -- but put it this way: I would not have given him (a penalty) for Felipe at least." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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