Racing legend Stewart says McLaren ace to blame

2011-05-31 13:24

Monte Carlo, Monaco – British motor Sir Jackie Stewart has added his voice to the rising chorus of seasoned observers who believe McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was entirely wrong to criticise the stewards after the tempestuous 2011 Monaco GP.

Stewart, a triple World champion and widely regarded as one of F1’s greatest ambassadors, said Hamilton was in the wrong in both of the collisions that created his problems and should learn from the lessons of Monte Carlo instead of delivering controversial outbursts during TV interviews.

“He would be well advised to listen carefully to what the stewards say,” Stewart said. “When you are a driver, you don’t see it from the other side. They get all the angles. They get the videos and can sit up there and get all the replays.

“They analyse it even better than the man in the cockpit – if there’s a degree of unfairness, and it is really obvious, then you appeal and you make suggestions to the governing body about what might be done better to ensure there is no penalty or loss to the person involved.

“But you also have to keep in mind that you are very exposed.

“Your own car is likely to be damaged in incidents in a big way and I actually said I thought there would be a question mark when they happened.”

Hamilton was in collisions with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado in the race which was won by defending World champion and runaway 2011 leader Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).

Hamilton, champion in 2008, was given a drive-through penalty for each offence, the second taken retrospectively as a 20sec time penalty after the race.

Massa and Maldonado were knocked out of the race by the incidents.

After seeing the stewards following the race, Hamilton told BBCTV that he had been called before them five times in six races and described it as “a frickin’ joke” adding that he felt he was being picked on regularly.

He said after the Monaco GP: “Maybe it’s because I’m black. That’s what Ali G says. I don’t know.”

He later went back to the stewards to apologise and explain that his remarks were delivered in the heat of the moment during a post-race rant when his emotions ran away with him.

He said his hint at racism was a badly-chosen joke.

Stewart added: “I think both incidents were questionable – and he was lucky to get off without any front-wing damage in the final incident.

“You make your own luck and you create your own situations but the key is that you should not put yourself in a position where the other driver can retaliate in a fashion that will be negative to you or will be seen by the stewards as negative.”

Vettel’s victory, his first on the streets of the Mediterranean principality, lifted him into a 58-point lead in the Drivers’ championship ahead of Hamilton, who endured a weekend of total frustration aggravated by errors.

His team selected a poor strategy during Saturday’s qualifying by not sending the driver out to record an early banker lap for a good grid position before Mexican rookie Sergio Perez crashed and qualifying was halted.

Hamilton started from ninth on the grid and not pole, or at least the front row, as his form and speed in practice had indicated.

This left him heavily disadvantaged at the start of the 78 laps.

Furthermore, in the race, McLaren’s pit crew was not ready for him when he came in – a basic error that added to his rising sense of injustice as his forecast role as race favourite was eroded by events beyond his control.

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