Lewis Hamilton brought the curtain down on a turbulent 2011 F1 campaign by extending an olive branch to Ferrari's Felipe Massa and ending the feud that existed between them for much of the year.
The pair had come together no fewer than six times in 19 races, beginning with double contact in Monaco and culminating in another clash at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. Both drivers were, at separate times, found culpable by the stewards, but the repeated incidents and reprimands served to underscore a difficult season for the Briton, who was beset by personal problems that had a clear effect on his driving.
The pair were running nose-to-tail for much of the Brazilian race, with Massa notably unwilling to allow Hamilton easy passage after their positions switched during the pit-stop window, but any potential clash was averted when McLaren opted to pit its driver for another set of tyres, shortly before he was forced to retire, this time through no fault of his own after his McLaren's gearbox packed up.
Despite admitting that he was now looking forward to some time away from the track, Hamilton decided to end the impasse
that had grown between himself and his adversary by visiting the Ferrari pit and hugging the local hero. Prior to that, and excepting a brief embrace following the minute's silence for Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli in India, neither driver had felt it their responsibility to take the peace-making initiative, allowing the row to fester until the Interlagos finale.
"It was good to have a nice chat with Felipe," Hamilton told the BBC
, "I have great respect for him and I'm looking forward to racing him again next year."
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh was also happy to see the feud end on a happy note before the F1 circus packed up and headed into its brief winter break.
"Even in this race, we've had the magnetic attraction between Lewis and Felipe which has sometimes gone wrong," he said, "For a few moments there, we thought it might just happen again. In fact, at that point, Lewis didn't have a seventh gear so, although he was quite a lot quicker, getting past was going to be a bit of a challenge for him. So it was nice, at the end of it, in an impromptu way, for Lewis to have a hug with Felipe. Hopefully, that story will now end and we'll move on to a great championship fight for next year."