McLaren driver and former World Champion Lewis Hamilton was penalized three times in two days in Monaco. After dominating the first two qualifying sessions on Saturday his best run in Q3 was erased because he cut through the chicane. And he was twice penalized during the GP race following incidents with Massa and Maldonado in which Hamilton tried impossible overtaking moves that led to inevitable shunts.
Afterwards, a cleary frustrated Hamilton said: “Out of six races, I’ve been to the stewards five times. It’s a joke. It’s an absolute frickin’ joke. It’s just ridiculous. These drivers are absolutely frickin’ ridiculous. Just stupid.”
Lewis Hamilton Under fire from Jackie Stewart After Monaco Maneuvers | Guardian.co.uk. He apologized via Twitter the next day.
This is hardly the first time Lewis has behaved unsportingly; witness his outrageous blocking and weaving last season. As Richard Williams writes in the Guardian piece below, Hamilton needs to learn a little humility:
A yellow helmet and 15 Grand Prix wins do not make you Ayrton Senna. No rival is going to move aside just because you are Lewis Hamilton. The champion of 2008 is a superb competitor who has mislaid his sense of perspective and needs to be reminded that it is possible to race aggressively and entertainingly while still showing respect to a fellow competitor like Pastor Maldonado, whose big day [after qualifying in the top 10] — based on a brilliant GP2 record of finishing first, second, first and second in four Monaco appearances — he had was so wantonly destroyed.
There is more to Formula One than just the battle at the head of the field, and I was looking forward to sitting down on Sunday and following the progress of Pastor Maldonado. In the five races leading up the Monaco Grand Prix, the 26-year-old rookie from Venezuela had finished no higher than 15th. But Maldonado is that old-fashioned thing, a Monaco specialist.
He joined the Williams team this year after four seasons in GP2, the feeder formula whose ambitious young drivers receive their biggest exposure of the year in the support race at Monaco, when they perform under the eyes of the Formula One bosses on the glamorous and most technically demanding of circuits. In four appearances, he had finished first, second, first and second.
On Sunday he had his chance in a Formula One car. The 2011 Williams is not a machine capable of competing with its rivals from Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, but in the qualifying sessions Maldonado managed to hoist it into the top 10, which was more than his experienced team?mate, Rubens Barrichello, could do.
Sunday went even better, and he was running in sixth place as the race entered its closing stages. For his team, such a finish might have lured sponsors, while the points would have meant a significantly greater amount of prize money at the end of the season. For Maldonado, it would have made people sit up and think about him as more than just another midfield journeyman.
Then, half a dozen laps from the end of an incident-filled race, Lewis Hamilton tried to push inside him at Saint Devote, the fast right-hander at the end of the main straight. This is one of the few places at Monaco where overtaking is even theoretically possible, and Hamilton had shown how it could be done when he dived inside Michael Schumacher on lap 10, timing the manoeuvre so perfectly that the German was forced to yield.
This time, however, Hamilton got it wrong, as he had also done when trying to bully Felipe Massa out of the way at the hairpin just before half-distance. Barging into the side of the Brazilian’s Ferrari, he inflicted damage that seemed to cause Massa to run wide and hit the barrier when the two cars entered the tunnel side by side a few seconds later. For that, the British driver was given a drive-through penalty.
His next victim’s demise was even more abrupt. Possibly thinking that a rookie would be easy meat after Schumacher, Hamilton made an earlier and riskier move – the McLaren was nowhere near level with the Williams on the entry to the corner, as it had been with the Mercedes – and the damage from the collision forced Maldonado to retire on the spot, putting an end to what should have been a day to celebrate for the Venezuelan and his team.
Hamilton was able to continue and hung on to claim sixth place, despite being given a post-race penalty of 20 seconds for causing Maldonado’s retirement. At that point he started using intemperate language as he complained about the punishments to a TV interviewer: “frickin'” this and “frickin'” that. A stupid reference to the Ali G catchphrase – “Maybe it’s because I’m black” – may or may not have been an attempt at a joke, but he later apologised for it.
If he goes to see the documentary about the late Ayrton Senna which opens in cinemas this weekend, he will understand how his childhood hero was the first to bring into Formula One the go?kart tactics that Hamilton tried to use on Sunday. Teenage kart drivers can bang wheels, dodgem-style, without seriously endangering each other. So, Senna discovered, can the drivers of modern Formula One cars. Schumacher noted Senna’s tactics, and built a career on exploiting them in a more cold-blooded way.
But a yellow helmet and 15 grand prix wins do not make you Ayrton Senna. No rival is going to move aside just because you are Lewis Hamilton. The champion of 2008 is a superb competitor who has mislaid his sense of perspective and needs to be reminded that it is possible to race aggressively and entertainingly while still showing respect to a fellow competitor like Maldonado, whose big day was so wantonly destroyed.
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