Lewis Hamilton accepted responsibility for the accident that ended his Belgian Grand Prix. Initially the lap 13-crash in which Hamilton slammed into a barrier after he and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi banged wheels appeared to be a racing incident. Even the McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, felt Hamilton “was extremely unlucky”, claiming the emphasis was on Kobayashi “not to make a connection quite as hard as that”.
Within hours, however, Hamilton had contradicted his Whitmarsh, making it clear he was the guilty party. Via his Twitter account, Hamilton said: “After watching the replay, I realise it was my fault 100%. I didn’t give Kobayashi enough room though I thought in [sic] was past. Apologies to Kamui and to my team. The team deserves better from me.”
The collision was the latest in a string of incidents that have occurred this season in Malaysia, Monaco, Montreal, Budapest, and now at Spa, the scene of his victory last year.
While Sunday’s winner and championship leader Sebastian Vettel has not been involved in a single incident this season, and has finished every race, it is no surprise Hamilton trails the German by 113 points with 175 left to play for.
In assessing his title chances now, Hamilton’s response was clear and succinct as he said: “The championship wasn’t ours anyway.”
After an on-track flare-up with Pastor Maldonado in qualifying on Saturday, their second of the year after Hamilton crashed into him in Monaco to end his race, the Venezuelan feels the Briton needs to change his approach. Hamilton was reprimanded for initially banging wheels with the Williams driver, only for the latter to incur a five-place grid penalty for swiping across the front of the McLaren.
Following the incident, Maldonado said: “What happened in qualifying was racing. We need to look forward. That’s past. The only bad thing is he did the same in the race, so I think he needs to be more focused on his race and not to do that movement.”
Hamilton did visit Maldonado to clear the air to which the latter added: “Lewis is a really talented driver, a really good friend, so we need to be more focused and respect each other more.”
Hamilton did receive support from Whitmarsh. “He is a racing driver who is competitive, which people were saying throughout most of Ayrton Senna’s career, the same with Michael Schumacher,” he said. “For all those committed, competitive drivers, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Vettel made it seven wins in 12 races this season, scoring a 10th one-two with his Red Bull team-mate, Mark Webber, who remains the closest challenger at 92 points adrift.
From 13th on the grid, and 19th following an early pit stop, Jenson Button claimed another podium place to leave Whitmarsh describing him as “the driver of the day”. Button, though, is 110 points behind Vettel, while Fernando Alonso is 102 adrift after the Spaniard finished fourth.