Niki Lauda has hit out at Lewis Hamilton's on-track aggression in F1 of late, arguing that the McLaren-Mercedes star is 'completely mad' and that his driving style 'will result in someone getting killed' – but David Coulthard has leapt to the 2008 world champion's defence.
In the past two races, Hamilton has tangled with no fewer than four of his rivals, sending both Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado crashing out-of-contention in Monaco just over a fortnight ago, tipping Mark Webber into a first corner spin in Montreal on Sunday and then – most calamitously of all – colliding with his own team-mate Jenson Button as he aimed for a gap early on in the Canadian Grand Prix that was not really there.
Throw into the mix a number of run-ins with FIA stewards and a spate of penalties for his manoeuvres – and his own insistence that 'I will never stop racing the way I do' [see separate story – click here
] – and Lauda insists that unless serious sanctions are handed down, Hamilton's uncompromising approach to on-track battles will end up badly indeed.
“What Hamilton did there goes beyond all boundaries," the ever-outspoken three-time F1 World Champion asserted during his race commentary for German television station RTL
. “He is completely mad. If the FIA does not punish him, I do not understand the world anymore. At some point, there has to be an end to all the jokes. You cannot drive like this – as it will result in someone getting killed.”
“I think Niki was being a bit hard on Lewis, but Niki is a man who should be listened too,” concurred fellow multiple title-winner Sir Jackie Stewart. “To finish first, you must finish and not be running into people all the time. He's having too many collisions with too many drivers, and he can't blame the stewards, because there is a different set at every race.
“I'm a great supporter of Lewis, but I think he's hiding under blinkers at the moment. You can't keep going for gaps that don't exist, and if he's blaming the car and the team, that's just unprofessional. No driver had the perfect car.”
“He's going a bit too far in some cases,” echoed British racing hero Sir Stirling Moss, who officially announced his retirement from racing at Le Mans last week. “He's a terrific driver, he's got great aggression and he's an exciting driver, which is important because it's a television sport now – but his handling of himself is not that good. His father is no longer his manager, which is a problem. If they could get together, it would be a good thing.”
Whilst Webber – who lost eight positions in the coming-together, arguably denying the Australian a chance to fight for victory around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – described Hamilton's move as 'a bit clumsy' and quipped that 'I think Lewis thought the chequered flag was in Turn Three', former McLaren ace and current BBC F1
commentator David Coulthard has for the second time in as many weeks gone against the general grain in backing his fellow Brit in his column for The Daily Telegraph
, dismissing notions that Hamilton's driving has been 'reckless'.
“For the second race in a row, Lewis Hamilton finds both his racecraft and his temperament under review,” the Scot mused. “In many respects it is a shame, because Jenson Button's sensational victory in a frankly unforgettable grand prix should really take the headlines – but Lewis is box office, and when you have someone of the stature of Niki Lauda, a triple world champion, saying that he could 'kill someone' with his driving, then I can understand why it's a story.