Hamilton under attack again for 'destroying Massa's race'
Monday 26 September 2011
Ferrari's Felipe Massa lashed out at Lewis Hamilton after a collision in yesterday's Singapore Grand Prix, accusing the Briton of trying "to be Superman" and endangering fellow drivers.
Sebastian Vettel won the race to move within a point of claiming his second consecutive world title, but the Red Bull driver's thunder was stolen by the row between Massa and Hamilton.
McLaren's Hamilton ran into the back of Massa's Ferrari on lap 12, forcing the Italian to pit with a shredded tire. Hamilton stopped soon after for a new front wing and then had to serve a pit drive-through penalty.
Massa confronted Hamilton after the race following two straight days of on-track incidents between the pair. In Saturday's last qualifying period, Hamilton muscled his way past Massa as they prepared for a flying lap.
"He destroyed my race," Massa said. "Yesterday he tried to be Superman in the qualifying and today he tried to do the same, he could have caused a big accident." Massa added: "I tried to talk to him but he doesn't listen."
Hamilton, who edged Massa for the 2008 championship, has been involved in a series of scraps and accidents this year – most notably colliding with his team-mate Jenson Button in Canada, with Massa in Monaco and with Kamui Kobayashi in Belgium. Hamilton also crashed out of last year's Singapore Grand Prix.
Massa urged race officials to come down hard on the Briton. "It's important that the FIA is looking and penalising him all the time," Massa said. "He's paying for it because he had the drive-through. But he can't listen, he can't understand, he doesn't learn anything. That's the problem."
Vettel sped to a crushing victory, leaving him tantalisingly close to securing back-to-back Formula One titles. To put the crown's destination beyond mathematical doubt, the Red Bull driver needed to be 125 points clear, but second-placed Button's 18-point haul left the gap at 124 points after the Englishman's late challenge.
Hamilton's race strategy was compromised from the start when the FIA refused to give him a replacement Pirelli supersoft tyre after he had suffered a puncture in the right rear during the second qualifying session. Since he almost certainly picked up debris from Kamui Kobayashi's crash earlier in the session, through no fault of his own, this seemed a harsh decision.
After Vettel blasted into the lead from Button at the start, Hamilton's day got worse when he got blocked by Mark Webber and lost places, dropping from fourth to eighth as Fernando Alonso jumped up to third. Hamilton climbed quickly to sixth, passing the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, but his run-in with Massa on lap 12 damaged his front wing and he dropped to 16th after his enforced pit-stop. His subsequent drive-through penalty saw him slip to 19th.
Up front, Vettel owned the race, lock, stock and double barrel, building a lead of 11.4sec by the 16th lap after a flurry of fastest laps distanced him from Button, who in turn had dropped Alonso. After losing time behind third-placed Paul di Resta, who moved up temporarily on his harder tyres as faster runners switched to replacements for their soft compounds, the Spaniard was back in third place by lap 20, but further behind Button than Button was behind Vettel. Webber did not look a threat, at this stage, running three seconds further back. With Button and Alonso where they were, Vettel was still not a double-champion yet.
On lap 20, Webber suddenly slashed the gap to Alonso, passing when Alonso pitted for tyres again but losing out when he made his own next stop. This came on lap 29, when the complexion of the race changed dramatically.
Rosberg had overtaken Sergio Perez for seventh place on the 28th lap, but got on the marbles in the last corner and Perez pounced again. But Rosberg retaliated and they touched going into the first corner, pushing the Mexican wide. That gave Schumacher the chance to close in, but the veteran champion badly misjudged it and his car left the track after running straight into the back of the Sauber. As the Mercedes came down again, Schumacher crashed head-on into a safety wall, thankfully without injury to anything more than his pride.
The safety car came out, triggering a rash of pit stops and when they were done the order was Vettel, Button, Alonso, Webber; with Hamilton up to ninth.
When the race went green again on lap 34 Vettel had lapped cars between him and Button and was still 8.9sec ahead of the McLaren driver. Webber, in one key move that removed Alonso's championship hopes, jumped the surprised Spaniard, as, further back, Hamilton moved past Perez for eighth.
The Englishman made the most of his overdue good fortune, whipping quickly by Adrian Sutil, Rosberg and, Di Resta to take fifth behind Vettel, Button, Webber and Alonso in a dramatic finish to the race. There was yet more drama to come when he was confronted by Massa, and, if the title is all but wrapped up, there is a good chance the debate over his driving style will run all the way to the end of the season.
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