Lewis Hamilton's calamitous opening lap error in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix came as a result of the McLaren-Mercedes star being unsettled at having been 'outsmarted and outperformed' by team-mate Jenson Button the previous day, Martin Brundle has opined.
Hamilton headed into the Monza weekend as the red-hot favourite to triumph and with it extend his advantage in the points standings as he bids to claim a second drivers' world championship crown in three years this season – with his McLaren MP4-25 widely-tipped to be the fastest thing on four wheels around the legendary Autodromo.
However, after he and compatriot and title-winning successor Button went their separate ways on whether or not to use the aero-enhancing F-duct – with the latter electing to run it but Hamilton conversely deciding otherwise ahead of qualifying – the Stevenage-born ace was left on the back foot, and palpably unhappy at lining up only fifth on the starting grid, three spots behind the front row-sitting sister machine.
That, Brundle contends, left Hamilton psychologically vulnerable on race day, still angry at having been tactically out-manoeuvred – and not for the first time this season, either – by a driver that most consider not to be his equal in terms of absolute out-and-out raw pace.
The subsequent reckless move to wrest third place away from Felipe Massa on lap one of the grand prix 'when an overtake was not on option' was a product of that, argues the popular BBC F1
commentator – and in that split-second Hamilton threw away a golden chance of victory, and his world championship lead into the bargain. Button's hopes of glory were similarly scuppered by a costly nudge from behind from Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso into the first chicane.
“McLaren could have spoiled the party, but by the second chicane of the first lap they were severely compromised,” the former Benetton, Ligier, McLaren and Jordan star wrote in his post-race blog for BBC Sport
. “In the first chicane, cleverly defended by Button from both Ferraris, a thump in the McLaren rear wing from Alonso's nose cone ripped off a large part of the end-fence. This would rob Button of vital downforce.
“Then at the second chicane Hamilton, who had already passed his main championship rival [Mark] Webber, placed his right-front wheel perilously close to Felipe Massa's left-rear wheel when an overtake was not an option. He simply left it there and there was inevitable contact, and even Hamilton can't explain why he didn't address the situation. He put his hand up immediately to take the full blame.
“Hamilton was despondent after qualifying, when fifth place was compounded by Button's front row slot on a totally different aero level strategy. He had been outsmarted and outperformed, and he took that frustration to the grid and into the first lap.”