Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton crashes out after Twitter reprimand

SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso (L) of Spain and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (R) of Great Britain and McLaren collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren is catapulted into the air after crashing at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso (front) of Spain and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (rear) of Great Britain and McLaren collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso (front) of Spain and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (rear) of Great Britain and McLaren collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Romain Grosjean (L) of France and Lotus and Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain and Ferrari collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Romain Grosjean (L) of France and Lotus and Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain and Ferrari collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, left, crashes with McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, airborne right, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, in air right, crashes with McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, yellow helmet extreme right, and Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, left, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit , Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, right, crashes with Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, airborne centre, and McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, behind centre with yellow helmet, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain leads the field from the start, as McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, crashes with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, during the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, left, crashes with Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, centre, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit , Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari crashes out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates in the paddock with his girlfriend Jessica Michibata and team mates after winning the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain, center, and his girlfriend Jessica Michibata, celebrate with the team, after he won the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany came second and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland was third. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives on the warm up laps before the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Cars stand on the grid before the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Paul di Resta of Great Britain and Force India in action during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates with his team after winning the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari, Sergio Perez of Mexico and Sauber (L) and Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren are pictured ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Second placed Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Red Bull Racing and third placed Kimi Raikkonen (L) of Finland and Lotus celebrates on the podium following the the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Race winner Jenson Button (R) of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates on the podium with second placed Sebastian Vettel (L) of Germany and Red Bull Racing following the the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Felipe Massa (L) of Brazil and Ferrari and Bruno Senna (R) of Brazil and Williams drive side by side during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Lotus celebrates finishing third during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates after finishing second during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton found himself in hot water here yesterday, and then found himself in the gravel. The contrast in fortune between McLaren's drivers could scarcely have been more stark as Jenson Button won the Belgian Grand Prix from the front and Hamilton was taken out on the first lap.

Beneath the victorious post-race smiles there was tension in the team's camp after Hamilton followed up a series of tweets on Saturday by posting on Twitter an overlay of his qualifying lap and Button's that supported his view of how much benefit the latter derived from the rear wing that he chose.



It is thought that Hamilton posted the telemetry not to suggest that Button had been favoured but to illustrate the difference in performance between the two wings. He had freely admitted that he chose to go with the higher downforce configuration, which cost him top speed.



"In free practice I had some instability with the new wing that we tried," Hamilton explained. "At the time, we had a relatively big gap between ourselves and the Red Bulls and the Ferrari, so we felt on our side of the garage that we should try something to fix it. For us, there was potential to go to the wing that we used in the last race. We believed that the gap between those two wings wasn't so big, but we proved ourselves wrong."



McLaren's engineering management were angered that such sensitive information as suspension settings and ride heights was placed in the public domain by their own driver. It will be highly illuminating to rivals who spend heavily seeking to match or beat McLaren and are keen to learn as much as possible about the intricate details of their on-track performance. Hamilton was immediately instructed to remove the information, but it created bad feeling within McLaren at a time when everyone needs to pull in the right direction to maximise raceday performance as they chase after series leaders Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, and the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.



"We didn't ask Lewis to remove yesterday's tweets," team principal Martin Whitmarsh stressed, "but we did ask him to remove this morning's telemetry tweets." Hamilton subsequently took down many of his comments, which contained the sort of colloquialisms that abound on the social networking site, such as the acronym WTF. He said that he had done this of his own volition after reflecting on the suitability of such expressions.



While Button's fortunes picked up, Hamilton's race was a disaster. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who has been involved in a series of incidents on his return to Formula One this season, pushed Hamilton's McLaren onto the grass to the right of the track just after the start, and as Hamilton half spun he inadvertently pushed Grosjean into contact with Alonso's Ferrari. As Grosjean then went over the back of Sergio Perez's Sauber before cartwheeling across the front of Alonso's cockpit, Hamilton was thrown into contact with the Ferrari and then with Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber. After debating the matter after the race, the stewards banned Grosjean for one race.



Though he clearly remonstrated with the Frenchman in the immediate aftermath, Hamilton declined to comment about the incident later on. "I've had a lot worse than that," he said. "But I don't want to talk about the start crash. Just congratulations to Jenson, he did a fantastic race. It looked like a walk in the park for him. It's great to see that the team had the pace and I've got to try to pull that out of my car in the next race."

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