McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insists that Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa need to take steps to repair their relationship after another exchange of views following a fifth coming together between the pair in India on Sunday.
Starting alongside his Ferrari rival after taking a grid penalty, Hamilton chased Massa through the first phase of the inaugural F1 race at Buddh International Circuit and, having failed to jump him in the pit-stops, tried to make a pass at turn five on lap 24. Although the McLaren had its front wheels alongside the Ferrari, Massa still turned in, and the resulting collision forced both cars into the run-off area. Hamilton needed a new front wing, dropping him out of the points and limiting him to seventh at the flag, while Massa pressed on after being penalised only to retire with a second suspension failure in as many days.
Naturally, each had their own view of the incident, and also made reference to the fact that there had been no conversation - or attempt to diffuse the situation - between them since a brief altercation in the media pen at the Singapore Grand Prix. Whitmarsh, however, insisted that it was not for either himself or Ferrari counterpart Stefano Domenicali to intervene.
“They're young drivers, but they're not that
young, they're men," he told journalists after the race, "I have discussed it with Ferrari, but I think it's got to come from them. If I arranged for the two of them to shake hands outside the garage, you would all take a picture and have a laugh about it.
“I think Felipe is under enormous pressure within that team and that causes him to react. And, in truth, Lewis will be feeling under pressure because of the great performance of Jenson [Button] at the moment. But a staged handshake... you don't want that, unless it's to take the mickey out of it. They've got to sort it out themselves.”
The antagonism between Massa and Hamilton began back in Monaco, where a fired-up Briton hit his rival at the hairpin and subsequently went side-by-side with him in the tunnel - where Massa hit the wall and retired. Although Canada and Valencia passed off without incident - although Hamilton hit team-mate Button in Montreal - McLaren and Ferrari again came close to contact at Silverstone, before a double incident in Singapore, where Massa appeared to delay Hamilton in qualifying and the Briton misjudged pulling out of a move in the race, puncturing the Brazilian's right rear tyre and costing him a shot at the podium. Remarkably, just a fortnight later, they came together again at Suzuka, where Hamilton insisted that he could not see his rival in his mirrors as they approached the final chicane.
"[Hamilton] and Felipe are magnetic, they come together, but the stewards made a clear decision," Whitmarsh said of the latest contretemps
, "Massa turned in and Lewis didn't have a chance. I'm sure others will feel differently [about the penalty but] it hurt Lewis - he had to come in and change tyres [and] his car was damaged, but he had the discipline to bring it home for some points."