13 June 2011
Button, Hamilton still friendly after Montreal clash
Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have agreed that their clash in the Canadian GP was little more than a unfortunate racing incident precipitated by the conditions.
McLaren insists that there is no rift between Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton after their clash in the early stages of an unpredictable - and sometimes controversial - Canadian Grand Prix, which saw the latter sidelined and having to watch his team-mate take a sensational last-lap victory.
Despite having started on the extreme wet-weather tyre and with a supposedly more suitable set-up than their rivals, both McLarens found the conditions tricky in the early laps, swapping places on a couple of occasions due to 'moments', but the latest test in the drivers apparently strong relationship came on lap seven, as Hamilton attempted to make the most of his team-mate's slow exit from the final chicane.
Deploying KERS, the 2008 world champion moved to the left in an effort to pass Button around the outside of the slight kink in the main straight, but also be on the racing line. Button, meanwhile, had the same intention, and also moved left, leaving Hamilton with nowhere to go as the pit-wall loomed.
"I couldn't see anything when he was alongside me," Button insisted, "I couldn't see anything in my mirrors except a blur of Vodafone red, but that could have been my rear wing as, obviously, it's the same colour as Lewis's car. I moved to the left, which is the racing line, then I felt a bang, and I feared it was game over for both of us."
Although television pictures showed that Button checked his mirrors as he moved left, the level of spray suggests that the Briton could indeed see very little, with Hamilton's right front corner making contact with Button's left rear, before being spat hard against the pit-wall. The secondary impact was enough to break both left-side wheels on the #3 McLaren, and also damage a driveshaft sufficiently to prevent Hamilton making it back to the McLaren garage.
With the race red-flagged due to worsening conditions shortly after the incident, Button sought out his team-mate during the ensuing two-hour interval and attempted to explain the incident from his point of view, with both drivers - and team principal Martin Whitmarsh - confirming that the entente cordiale that has marked the latest McLaren era was intact.
"Lewis knows that I didn't do it on purpose, and I know that he didn't do it on purpose either," Button acknowledged, "I spoke to him before the race restarted, and it's all good."
"Of course I don't think it was intentional," Hamilton confirmed, "I know Jenson well enough and I know he wouldn't do that - he's a good guy.
"The conditions were very tricky from the start, I had pretty good grip and I was doing the best I could to keep the car on the track. After I fell back behind Jenson, he outbraked himself into the final chicane and got a poor exit, so I was able to get a good run on him. It felt to me like I was halfway alongside him down the pits straight – but, as he probably hadn't spotted me, he continued moving across on the racing line. There was no room for me, so I hit the wall."
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