Hamilton in firing line again as Massa expresses his frustration
LEWIS Hamilton walked away from a potential dust-up with Felipe Massa following a bitter post-race showdown between the duo.
On a night when Sebastian Vettel produced another faultless drive with a pole-to-flag victory in the Singapore Grand Prix, the heat continued after the flag fell as Massa confronted Hamilton.
A feud that began in Monaco when Hamilton ran into Massa during the Monaco Grand Prix, earning a drive-through penalty, simmered again on Saturday before finally spilling over in the aftermath of another on-track collision yesterday.
Following qualifying Massa decreed Hamilton “didn’t use his mind again” after the 26-year-old barged the Brazilian out of the way after becoming frustrated with his slow pace.
So when Hamilton came up behind Massa on lap 12 of yesterday’s race, it was all eyes on the duo, with an air of inevitability they collided again.
On this occasion, following a failed pass, Hamilton lost the left side of his front wing after running into the right-rear tyre of Massa’s Ferrari, causing an immediate puncture.
It came as no surprise either when the stewards handed Hamilton a drive-through penalty that pitched him down to 19th and although he managed to claim fifth, his troubles continued after the race.
In the drivers’ pen, where TV and radio interviews are conducted, a clearly angry Massa approached Hamilton from behind, slapping him on the back and pulling him by the upper right arm to grab his attention.
When Hamilton turned, Massa twice slapped him on the right shoulder in a sarcastic congratulatory manner, giving him a thumbs-up sign before snapping: “Good job huh. Very good job.”
In response, Hamilton shouted after a departing Massa, “Don’t touch me man. Don’t touch me.”
Prompted by the interviewer to comment on Massa’s actions, Hamilton simply replied, “Well, there you go”, before deciding to depart the pen to avoid any further acrimony or grilling on the matter.
It proved to be Hamilton’s only interview as he left the circuit an hour later without uttering another word to any of the media.
Massa, though, has had plenty to say on the subject, warning Hamilton he will never win another Formula 1 world title if he continues to drive in a ‘mindless’ manner.
“What can I say? How many races this year has he gone in the wrong direction and he’s paid. He never learns,” said a fuming Massa.
“The FIA is looking at that, for sure, because when he is doing it so many times then you have somebody over you. He’s not learning.
“Even in qualifying, what he did yesterday, nobody is doing that to be honest, so I’m disappointed, but he is paying for it.”
Asked as to what unfolded in the pen, Massa added: “I tried to speak to him, but he didn’t listen to me.
“I called him twice, but he didn’t listen, he just passed through. He didn’t even look at me.
“Then when I did see him, I said ‘Like that you won’t win many championships’.
“Then I went like that (thumbs up), and said to him ‘Very good job, well done’. That’s it.”
Asked as to whether the FIA should clamp down on Hamilton as it is his fifth drive-through penalty this year, and in the wake of numerous incidents, Massa said: “It is up to the FIA.
“You can’t say they made a mistake (here) because they penalised him, but as I say, he is paying so much for his driving.”
Not for the first time this season, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been forced to defend Hamilton.
“Felipe approached Lewis in the post-race TV interview enclosure and grabbed him slightly aggressively,” said Whitmarsh.
“That riled Lewis, understandably so, but he acted with com-
I called him twice, he didn’t listen, he just passed through. He didn’t even look at me. Felipe Massa voices his frustration with
fellow F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
mendable restraint and walked away from any potential confrontation.
“Later, he decided to walk away from talking about the incident too because he didn’t want to escalate the situation. He did absolutely nothing wrong.”
It all overshadowed another stunning performance from Vettel, who led every single one of the 61 laps to claim his ninth win of the season.
The championship champagne is on ice until the next race in Japan in a fortnight, though, as the Red Bull star still requires a single point to become the youngest back-to-back world champion in F1 history.
Behind Vettel, McLaren’s Jenson Button was a commendable second, followed by Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.
Force India’s Paul di Resta conjured his best drive of his debut campaign to finish sixth, the Scot in the points for the third time in the last four races.
Jerome D’Ambrosio was the toast of Yorkshire-based Marussia Virgin Racing for a performance described by team principal John Booth as his ‘best of the year’.
The Belgian rookie pitted wisely and used his tryes well during one of the most demanding races of the year to finish in 18th place. His German team-mate Timo Glock was forced to retire due to damage sustained when he was hit at turn one by HRT’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Booth said: “Jerome drove possibly his best race of the year today.
“We were really pleased to see him battling with cars that are usually several seconds in front of us on pace.
“Enabling him to do this was a well thought-out strategy by the engineers which was executed faultlessly by the pit crew, with last minute calls and safety cars thrown into the mix.
“I’m sure he’ll take a big lift from this race and look forward to the final races of the season.
“Unfortunately, Timo’s race was over on the first lap with the impact from Ricciardo.
“It’s a great shame we didn’t get the chance to see him in action at his favourite track.”
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany leads the field at the start of the Singapore Grand Prix, a race he would go on to dominate to take another step towards his second successive title.