Lewis Hamilton has hit back in the row over aggressive driving by accusing former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso of making a questionable move on Ferrari colleague Felipe Massa during the Chinese Grand Prix.
At the risk of appearing hypocritical, the Briton insists that he would not have done what Alonso did - diving down the inside of Massa entering the pits during the rain-affected Shanghai race - despite having done exactly that to Sebastian Vettel at the start of their much-publicised pit-lane battle in the same race. Alonso and Massa played down the apparent severity of the matter after the media again raised questions about the Spaniard's ability to be a team player, and insist that there is no bad blood between them, despite the move ultimately costing Massa both places and the championship lead.
"I've never done [what Alonso did], and it's definitely not in my nature to do what he did," Hamilton told Reuters
on the opening day of the Spanish Grand Prix, "You are there to race one another, so on the track you race and you overtake professionally and as cleanly as possible. That could have turned out really bad for Felipe. He could have been out of the race if he had gone wide. It's not something I would have done."
Despite the obvious criticism, however, Hamilton insisted that he was not accusing his former team-mate of driving illegally, but underlined his claim that passing should be confined to the racetrack. The Briton is reckoned to have made by far the most passing moves in the four races so far held 2010 - a figure calculated to be somewhere in the thirties - and, despite being on the receiving end of criticism for his overly-defensive driving at times, believes that he's never put anyone in danger while attacking them.
"Some drivers here are seriously aggressive, perhaps more this year than I've ever seen, but it's great to see," the 2008 world champion admitted, "I'm more passionate than aggressive. I'm not aggressive when I'm alongside people, [but] I don't show aggression to them. I come by but, when I am coming by, very rarely do I lean on someone or put them on the grass - if ever.
"I'm not like that. I always give people space [but] I feel others don't give you the space and try running into you. I've never ever intentionally touched someone whilst passing them. On the track, you [take any chance to overtake], but I've never known it to be going into the pits before - although it's in the rules that you can.
"At the end of the day, I'm in a race to overtake. I haven't put anyone in any danger. I always feel like I drive within the limits of the rules. I always want to be seen as a fair driver."