War of words as Valencia “scandal” boils
29 June, 2010
Jun.29 (GMM) A new war of words is threatening to break out between former sparring partners Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Alonso was furious after Sunday’s European grand prix, when Hamilton overtook the safety car but still managed to finish second after serving a drive-through penalty.
“Even a child knows you cannot overtake the safety car, especially after an accident as serious as Webber’s,” the Spaniard fumed, according to the El Pais newspaper.
His 2007 McLaren teammate Hamilton, however, accused Alonso of “sour grapes”, suggesting his bad mood was made worse by being overtaken by the Sauber of Japanese rookie Kamui Kobayashi.
“It’s just sour grapes,” Briton Hamilton is quoted by the Sun newspaper. “It is very unlike him to be overtaken by a Sauber so he must have been completely in another world.”
Alonso, accusing the governing body of manipulating the race, and Ferrari are furious at the delayed decision to meekly penalise Hamilton, saying the outcome threatens the sport’s credibility.
But Hamilton said: “The FIA are doing an incredible job because they are allowing us to race this year. “I don’t understand why I affected his race so much.
“Everyone has a right to their opinions. He must just be disappointed with his own result but I didn’t do anything to him,” added the 2008 world champion.
Lotus technical boss Mike Gascoyne also defended the FIA. “I think it is just one of those things,” he is quoted by PA Sport. “(Race director) Charlie (Whiting) is trying to do the job as he sees it, calls it as he sees it, and he has as difficult a job as anyone.”
Hamilton should have been disqualified claims disgraced former Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who after re-appearing in the Monaco paddock last month, was seen on the grid prior to the Valencia street race.
Although conspiring to fix the 2008 Singapore grand prix by asking Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately, Briatore agrees with Ferrari and Alonso that Hamilton’s drive-through penalty for overtaking the safety car was too mild.
“The rules aren’t precise,” he is quoted as telling Italy’s Sky Sport 24. “You can’t have a penalty for Hamilton after 20 laps, it should be (after) 2 or 3,” said the 60-year-old. “Passing the safety car is more like a black flag penalty. Hamilton is lucky; everything he does turns out well.”
And as for the travails of his protege Alonso’s current team Ferrari, the Italian said: “What is Ferrari missing? Speed; they are not on the level of Red Bull and McLaren.”
Meanwhile Joan Villadelprat has warned Alonso to put a lid on his overt criticisms of F1′s governing body.
Spaniard Villadelprat, bidding to bring his Le Mans team Epsilon Euskadi onto the F1 grid next year, was referring to Alonso’s accusation that a mild penalty for Lewis Hamilton in Valencia last week amounted to FIA manipulation.
In his column for the El Pais newspaper, he said countryman Alonso might be excused for mouthing off in the immediate aftermath of the race, but should now quieten his attack or risk official sanctions.
“I think Alonso was heated and just out of the car,” he said. “I can understand their anger because Ferrari thought this race was a turning point in their championship. I also believe the stewards failed to react as they should. But I cannot say that Lewis Hamilton deserved a more severe penalty because it happened exactly as is in the regulations.”
He explained, “But the reaction should have been much faster — (the stewards’ decision) took about 14 laps! I suppose they waited so long because they were analysing it before giving a verdict. In any case, Fernando needs to be very careful about what he says, because these types of attacks are of no benefit and could even cost a penalty. But even more, it’s because I don’t think he really believes the stewards acted intentionally for Hamilton and against his own interest.”
“I know that in times like these it is difficult to keep your head and your tongue cool, but Alonso needs to concentrate on his work, on getting his car on pole position and on stemming the difference that still separates Ferrari from Red Bull and McLaren,” added Villadelprat.