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 S?o 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."

Massa also reacted angrily to reporters who asked him why Ferrari members had been seen cheering when Hamilton spun, explaining that 'any time you see a Ferrari in front of a McLaren it's a good thing for the team'.

"You are trying to pour fire on the situation," the 27-year-old argued. "I admire Lewis as a driver and a person and I'm sure he admires me as well. I have no problem saying hello to him or discussing stuff or having fun. I won't change my approach."

Whilst Hamilton held his hand up to his 'mistake' at the start of the grand prix [see separate story - click here], his McLaren-Mercedes team principal Ron Dennis insisted that such incidents are all part-and-parcel of the sport, even if his young charge had insisted pre-weekend that he would henceforth not be taking any undue risks, particularly given how an over-zealous approach to winning no matter what had arguably cost him the 2007 F1 crown.

"Any experienced motor racing person sees it as a racing incident," Dennis said, after seeing his team go home empty-handed for only the second time this season. "First corner incidents like that are absolutely commonplace in grand prix racing. Everybody is on tyres that haven't got up to full operating temperature at that point, and if people leave their braking late, that's what happens."

As to the collision with Massa, Dennis preferred to remain diplomatic, but he did surreptitiously seem to hint that - in-line with paddock consensus that all teams are equal but Ferrari is more equal than the rest - McLaren is facing 'an uphill struggle' in its bid to claim title glory.

"It's all the benefit of hindsight," the 61-year-old stated. "Yes, he (Hamilton) could have been a bit more mindful of the situation, but I'm sure he was pretty frustrated with himself for screwing up the first corner. Of course it would have been nice if he had been a little bit more prudent in the first corner.

"I think the thing that really got to him was the penalty, it really did. He was bitterly complaining about it in the car. Without the penalty we would have still got points, that's for sure.

"Lewis is a racing driver - that's what makes him the driver he is. He is going to fight for positions at every opportunity. You are not going to stop him doing that.

"Some of the things he does leave us in awe of him. The simple fact is he is a great driver and we are going to fight for the world championship, but it's sometimes a bit of an uphill struggle."