Felipe Massa last night blamed Lewis Hamilton for the pair's latest collision. So far this year, the two former title rivals have collided in Monaco, Silverstone, Singapore and Japan, and it happened once more as they fought over fifth place in Turn 5 on the 24th lap here in India yesterday.
Massa had made a mistake the previous lap on the exit to Turn 1, enabling the persistent Hamilton to get a run on him through Turn 3 and down the main straight, where the DRS wing helped him to get closer still. Going into Turn 5, a left-hander, Hamilton drew alongside Massa on the left-hand side of the road, and occupied enough of the track to prevent him turning in cleanly. The Brazilian kept coming, however, and even though Hamilton tried to leave him room, they touched and the Ferrari slid momentarily across the McLaren's nose before Hamilton's momentum pushed the Ferrari straight again.
Massa was given a drive-through penalty by the stewards and later crashed out when, once again, he broke the front suspension as he had in qualifying after going too aggressively over a kerb. Afterwards, he appeared unrepentant about the incident with Hamilton. "I can only say I do not share the opinion of the stewards," he said. "I stayed on the ideal line, braking on the limit. What else could I do? It's the umpteenth time that Hamilton runs into me this year and it seems it's some sort of fatal attraction. In the past, I tried to talk to him but he did not seem to be interested in doing so."
Asked if their head to head had now developed into a feud, Massa said: "Maybe for him. In all these incidents, it's him who's touched my car. I didn't do anything wrong. I don't have anything against him. Nothing. Zero. And I will tell him what I am telling you now."
Just as the French driver Rene Arnoux gave the impression of singling out Alain Prost in the twilight of his career, having beaten him while they were team-mates at Renault but then seen him go on to the greater successes that eluded him, so Massa seems to want to make a point all the time with the man who beat him to the 2008 world championship.
Hamilton would not be drawn on whose fault it was, but suggested he had tried to repair relations between the two drivers before the race. "There's not really much to say," Hamilton said. "It's a disappointing day. My team worked hard all weekend as they always do. I don't really know what else to say. We had the one-minute silence [to commemorate the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and MotoGP racer Marco Simoncelli] before the start of the race and me and Felipe were standing next to each other. He hasn't spoken to me in a long, long time, so I put my arm around him and just said 'Good luck for the race'.
"But when I tried to overtake, I actually tried to back off because it didn't look like he was going to give me any space, but we still collided. I'm really, really sorry for my team."
Hamilton said his car lacked pace thereafter and suspected that it had been damaged in the collision. "I had some vibrations, and in right handers it felt like the floor was scraping on the floor, and I just had very, very poor performance. I was pushing as hard as I could just to have the pace of anyone. The car looks fine, so maybe it's just me."