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India GP: Lewis, Massa at it again

2011-10-31 08:23

BAD ROMANCE: Felipe Massa (left) and Lewis Hamilton exchanged blows for the third race in a row during Sunday's inaugural Indian G1 GP.

Talek Harris

GREATER NOIDA, India - Lewis Hamilton's season took a farcical twist ton Sunday as he and Felipe Massa collided for the third time in recent weeks - fittingly, watched by TV comedian ‘Mr Bean'.

That, of course, is actor Rowan Atkinson who not only plays the addled Mini driver in the comedy series but, in real life, happens to own a McLaren sports car.

Hamilton, trapped by Ferrari's Massa going into a left turn at the first Indian GP, couldn't avoid contact with the Brazilian and protested on his radio. The race stewards later deemed Massa the bad guy for not allowing space. It cost him a drive-through penalty.

It was their third recent accident; the others were in Singapore and Japan and put relations on a knife-edge.

Atkinson, a guest in the McLaren garage, went through a series of his trademark grimaces as the drama unfolded on his TV screen.

Poor old Massa. Not only was he penalised for shunting his arch-rival but failed to learn from smashing his front right suspension on a high kerb during qualifying on Saturday; he did it again later in the actual race.


Hamilton blamed damage from their shunt for his seventh-place finish, which rounded off a tough week in which he announced his split from Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger and then suffered a three-place grid penalty.

"There is not much to say. It's a disappointing day and my team deserves better," Hamilton said. "I'll fly back (to Britain) and try to get my head back in the game."

Hamilton, 2008 Drivers' champion and second in Korea a week earlier, was hoping to end the 2011 season on a high but remains fifth in the Drivers' standings and 26 points behind McLaren team mate Jenson Button who is second on the log.

The said he made an overture to Massa before the race as drivers observed a minute's silence for IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and MotoGP's Marco Simoncelli, both killed while racing this month.

"We had the one-minute silence before the race, I was standing next to Felipe. He's not spoken to me for a long time but I made the effort, I put an arm round him and said good luck for the race," Hamilton said. "Then I tried to overtake but I tried to pull out of it as he didn't give me any space but we collided.

"I had some vibration through right turns, it felt like the car was scraping on the ground. I was pushing as hard as I could but I didn't have the pace."


Massa was adamant that he should not have been penalised and quibbled with Hamilton's version of events, although he denied there was any feud between them.

"He didn't try to do anything. When I tried to speak to him he passed through. He did not look to my face, so no. Not here," Massa said. "After the one-minute silence he was at my side and then he just said, 'have a good race'. So this is trying to what? Have a good race? Is that not part of talking, or whatever?"

In Singapore an angry Massa interrupted a TV interview to confront Hamilton, who had hit the back of the Brazilian's car, causing a puncture.

Two weeks later they clashed again in Japan with Hamilton's McLaren snapping off part of Massa's front wing, an accident for which he later apologised.

Hamilton was penalised three grid places in India for ignoring warning flags while on track at the all-new Buddh International Circuit on Friday. He qualified second but started fifth.

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