Lewis Hamilton has lashed out at Formula 1 World Championship title rival Felipe Massa for what he claims was a 'deliberate' effort to take him out of the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway when the Brazilian drove into him on Sunday.
The second lap incident occurred as both drivers were attempting to regain ground following Hamilton's calamitous first corner late-braking that had sent the field scattering, and it resulted after the Briton dived up the inside of the Ferrari, which had run wide into turn ten. As Massa rejoined the track, he did so by driving across the grass – and into the McLaren-Mercedes, which he sent spinning down to the bottom of the order.
“I took the corner normally and Felipe came back very aggressively and hit me,” Hamilton is quoted as having said by Pitpass
. “I think that was pretty much as deliberate as can be.”
Unsurprisingly, such a suggestion received short shrift from Massa who – like Hamilton for his first corner indiscretion – would go on to receive a drive-through penalty for the incident, which the Brazilian contended 'really hurt my race', even though it was Hamilton who ultimately ended up leaving Fuji point-less.
“Definitely not!” the Ferrari ace retorted when asked if he had deliberately tried to end Hamilton's race. “I have a good relationship with Lewis and would not do anything to destroy it on purpose.
“After turn ten we both braked late and he pushed me a little. I had two wheels on the gravel because he pushed me. In my opinion it was just a racing accident; it was hard but fair.”
As to Hamilton's first corner error – which compromised both Ferrari drivers, as well as a number of other competitors – Massa was unequivocal, even if he did not go as far as to echo Robert Kubica's pre-race assertion that the Stevenage-born ace is sometimes 'too aggressive', 'too much' and 'dangerous' on-track [see separate story – click here
“Lewis had a bad start and lost position,” the São Paulista contended, “and he tried to brake when everybody was already turning into the corner. It was not right.
“Kimi passed him and then he pushed Kimi too wide. It was too optimistic, especially if you are thinking about the championship.”