SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, (Reuters) – McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton shouldered the blame and apologised to his Formula One team after yet another accident in a crash-strewn season ended his Belgian Grand Prix hopes yesterday.
The 2008 world champion, winner at Spa last year, speared into the metal barriers at Les Combes after trying to pass Sauber’s Japanese Kamui Kobayashi for fourth place.
Commentators were divided on who was to blame, with McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh making a strong defence of the Briton, but Hamilton said it was his fault.
“After watching the replay, I realise it was my fault today 100%. I didn’t give Kobayashi enough room though I thought (I) was past,” he said on his Twitter account after he had left the circuit.
“Apologies to Kamui and to my team. The team deserves better from me.”
The accident happened on the 13th of the 44 scheduled laps when the McLaren’s rear left wheel touched the Sauber’s front right, a contact that sent Hamilton’s car careering off the track and into the metal barriers.
The Briton, who went to the medical centre for checks, emerged unscathed apart from a few bruises.
But, having started the afternoon 88 points adrift of Red Bull’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel, he ended the day 113 behind the German with a maximum of 175 points still to be won.
Hamilton’s season has been punctuated by controversy and collisions, at least seven over 12 race weekends, and the 26-year-old has been hauled repeatedly before race stewards.
Whitmarsh, who last year dubbed Vettel a ‘Crash Kid’ after the German shunted McLaren’s Jenson Button out at Spa, found himself defending Hamilton’s attitude and record instead on a day when Red Bull were triumphant.
“Lewis is someone who attracts extremes,” he told reporters.
“He’s an immensely competitive, passionate racing driver and people know they have got to commit quite heavily to get past him and he’s always going to commit to get past.
“I think Lewis Hamilton makes Formula One a more exciting place to be,” added Whitmarsh.
“I have spoken to Lewis about some things out of the car, he’s had some disappointments just recently and I think the new Lewis has dealt with those very well.”