F1 2011 Monaco Grand Prix: Penalised Hamilton blasts stewards
PUBLISHED: 21:43 29 May 2011 | UPDATED: 10:07 11 June 2011
A FRUSTRATED Lewis Hamilton launched a bitter attack on race stewards after finishing only sixth in an action-packed 2011 Monaco Grand Prix.
2011 FIA F1 World Drivers’ Championship standings
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 143
2 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 85
3 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 79
4 Jenson Button (McLaren) 76
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 69
6 Nick Heidfeld (Renault) 29
The 26-year-old Formula 1 driver from Herts was hit with two penalties, one during and one after an eventful race in the Principality, which was suspended and then re-started with just six laps to go.
World championship leader Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag around the famous Monte Carlo street circuit ahead of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to make it five wins out of six so far this season.
While fortune favoured the Red Bull driver, luck was in short supply for Herts-born Hamilton, who started ninth on the grid after being penalised post qualifying on Saturday.
Watched by US X Factor girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and younger brother Nic, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star was handed a drive-through penalty during the race for “causing an avoidable collision” with the Ferrari of Felipe Massa at the hairpin.
"Immediately after the race he [Lewis] was very down, and during a post-race TV interview he made a poor joke about his penalties that referenced Ali G."
Then, in the closing laps, he collided with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams.
He was called to stewards afterwards to explain both collisions and was hit with a post-race 20-second penalty, although the punishment didn’t affect his overall finishing position.
Speaking to BBC One directly after the race, an aggrieved Hamilton said: “I’ve been to the stewards five times out of six races. It’s a joke.”
Explaining what happened out on the narrow, barrier-lined streets of Monaco, Hamilton said: “You can’t overtake here and you very, very rarely get an opportunity.
2011 Monaco Grand Prix result
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3 Jenson Button (McLaren)
4 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
5 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
6 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
“I was quite a lot quicker than Massa. I went up the inside and the guy turned so early and just turned into me. So I tried to go over the kerb to avoid him and we were stuck together.
“And, of course, I get the penalty, which is the usual.
“He [Massa] held me up in qualifying, and I got the penalty. He turned into me [during the race], and I got the penalty.”
After serving that costly drive-through, Hamilton later collided with Maldonado in the closing stages after the race had resumed following a lengthy red-flag stoppage to clear debris after Vitaly Petrov’s crash.
"This afternoon, in the race itself, I made some strong moves on three drivers – Michael [Schumacher], Felipe [Massa] and Pastor [Maldonado] – and I got penalised for two of them."
Hamilton said: “I went up the inside of Maldonado and you can see on the screen he turned in a good car length too early to stop me from overtaking him and crashed into me. It’s just ridiculous.”
Asked why he was being targeted by race officials, Hamilton joked: “Maybe it’s because I’m black. That’s what Ali G says.”
He continued: “People want to see you racing, people want to see overtaking and you get done for trying to overtake. You get done for trying to put on a show. You get done for trying to make a move.
“Fair play, if I really feel I’ve just gone too late and hit someone, I’ll put my hand up and realise OK, I’ve really have caused an incident and I’ve been the stupid one. But that’s not the case.”
McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Hamilton had later apologised to stewards for his outburst.
“Immediately after the race he [Lewis] was very down, and during a post-race TV interview he made a poor joke about his penalties that referenced Ali G,” said Whitmarsh.
“However, I’m pleased to say that he chose to return to the track a little while later to speak to the stewards about the joke. They accepted his explanation.”
Whitmarsh admitted it was a frustrasting afternoon for Hamilton after a poor qualifying result on Saturday but defended his man’s aggressive driving.
He said: “I guess the reality is that, if you start anywhere other than at the front of the grid here in Monte Carlo, you’re always going to run the risk of getting involved in incidents – especially if, like Lewis, you’re a forceful driver who never, ever, gives up.
“But that’s Lewis. That’s why he’s such a fantastic driver – and that’s why watching him race is so thrilling.
“So, yes, he’s disappointed, because he’s been seriously quick all weekend here, but that’s Monte Carlo; that’s racing; that’s life.”
Vettel’s first Monaco GP victory stretched his lead at the top of the championship table to a massive 58 points, with Hamilton still second ahead of Mark Webber and Button.
Hamilton admitted reigning F1 world champion Vettel “is walking away with it”, having dropped just seven points in six races.
Of his own championship chances, Lewis said: “It’s never too late but it’s not looking great, I must say.
“I gave it my all today and the team did a great job to get the car back out and get it fixed for the last few laps.
“I’ll try my best to bounce back at the next race.”
The F1 circus moves to North America next month for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
Hamilton has already won twice around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – in 2007 and last year.
To revive his faint world title hopes, he’ll have to make it a hat-trick of Canadian victories on Sunday, June 12 or admit defeat in his pursuit of Vettel, the sport’s undisputed number one driver at the moment.