Former F1 racer David Coulthard has said that the altercation between Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton following the Singapore Grand Prix has been 'overblown' – but has insisted that the British driver would benefit from a closer relationship with his manager.
Hamilton and Massa were involved in two incidents on track over the course of the weekend, with a clash in qualifying being followed by a coming together in the race that saw Massa pick up a puncture and led to a drive through penalty for Hamilton.
Following the race, an angry Massa confronted Hamilton as he was preparing to carry out a TV interview but Coulthard – now co-commentator for the BBC
alongside Martin Brundle – insisted the clash had been blown out of all proportion.
“The spat between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa on Sunday was hardly the Thriller in Manila,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph
, referring to the famous boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. “The only thing missing from the 'Scrap in Singapore' was some handbags
“I could not imagine a less threatening character than Felipe and I'm sure it will blow over quickly. Felipe is a nice guy, popular among the drivers, and not the sort to hold a grudge. Believe me, there are some drivers with whom your ties would be forever cut if you received that sort of tap on the shoulder but he is not one of them.
“I don't think Felipe should have done it, certainly not on camera, but I can understand his frustration. He is fighting for his Ferrari seat and the collision during the race, while unfortunate, was certainly Lewis' fault.
“But there was no malice at all and it did not need to be blown out of proportion and overshadow what was an interesting race with some fantastic drives from the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta.”
Following the race, Hamilton's father Anthony claimed that his son needed more support from his management team and Coulthard said he could see the point Hamilton Sr was making.
“I can only speak from my own personal experience, but I agree with Anthony's general point,” he said. “In Formula One you are part of a large travelling circus and yet you are often alone. You go from the intense highs and lows of the action on track — the fierce concentration required in the cockpit faced with the ever-present threat of clear and present danger — to the quiet and loneliness of another faceless hotel. The constant international travel, the different time zones, the length of time you are away, the intensity of the experience; it all adds up.
“Lewis' set-up may well be the best for him and I'm sure he decides how he wants it set up in terms of who accompanies him to races. I'm just saying what worked for me and that was having someone I trusted and knew with me at all times.
“It doesn't have to be a manager necessarily, but for me it must be someone fighting your corner because everyone can be your best friend and do the chest-bumping when the times are good. It is when they aren't that you need someone to be able to sit down and talk to you with complete honesty. To tell you you're being an idiot.
“Your team are one thing but ultimately their allegiance is to the team. When times are tough what you need is a friend.”