Lewis Hamilton refuses to apologize after being branded ‘an idiot’ by Fernando Alonso

Lewis Hamilton refuses to apologize after being branded ‘an idiot’ by Fernando Alonso – AFP

Lewis Hamilton and former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso appear to have reopened old wounds, with the Briton refusing to apologize to the Spaniard in person after learning that Alonso had called him an “idiot” who “only knows how to drive when starting first” following their spectacular first-lap collision in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

“It’s nice to know how he feels about me,” said a clearly-irked Hamilton when asked about his rival’s comments. “It is better that it is out in the open how he feels.”

Hamilton, who had a famously frosty relationship with Alonso during his rookie season at McLaren in 2007, was forced to retire his Mercedes after the former team-mates tangled at Les Combes on the opening lap. The collision sent the rear end of Hamilton’s Mercedes flying up into the air before it came back down heavily.

Hamilton limped on for a bit, but the damage proved terminal, with his pitwall ordering him to stop.

The stewards deemed it to be a racing incident, taking no further action. But Alonso was furious. “What an idiot,” Alpine’s two-time world champion shouted over his team radio. “Closing the door from the outside. This guy only knows how to drive when starting first.”

After trudging back to the pits, Hamilton took responsibility for the crash. “Looking back at the footage, he was in my blind spot and I didn’t leave him enough space. It was my fault today,” conceded the seven-time world champion.

However, he was clearly annoyed by Alonso’s radio comments. “I don’t really have an answer,” he said when asked about them. “I know how things go in the heat of the moment, but it’s nice to know how he feels about me, and it’s better that it’s out in the open how he feels.

“It wasn’t intentional. I take responsibility for it. That is what adults do, and we move on.”

Asked whether he would chat to the Spaniard in person, Hamilton added: “No. I mean I would have until I heard what he said.”

Hamilton’s team principal Toto Wolff defended his driver, agreeing it was Hamilton’s mistake but calling it a “rare” mistake.

Lewis left him no room on the inside,” Wolff said. “I think Fernando was on the curb already. There wasn’t much more that he could have done. We’re sorry for the incident from the team’s point of view. It rarely happens to Lewis.”

Asked about the accusation that Hamilton “only knows how to drive and start in first”, Wolff smiled: “Well Lewis has started in the front a lot. He’s won seven world championships. So the strategy worked.”

It remains to be seen whether the two men will bury the hatchet before Zandvoort next weekend.

Fernando Alonso had to retire after the collision - AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Fernando Alonso had to retire after the collision – AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Alonso did later appear to row back a bit with his criticism in the mixed zone later on, recalling a similar incident between Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg at the same corner in 2014, for which the German was at fault. “It has happened in the past with Hamilton and Rosberg and it is a tricky corner,” he said.

Hamilton later received a warning from motorsport’s governing body the FIA ​​for “refusing” to visit the medical center despite receiving a “Medical Warning Light signal” following the accident.

The 37-year-old admitted he expected to feel stiff in the morning. “I almost broke my back coming down,” Hamilton said. “I am grateful to still be alive and in shape. I could hear something was broken in the gearbox. I would have broken so much in the back of the car so I was told to stop. I am sure I will feel sore tomorrow. “

He added: “I was surprised to see the car go high. I just feel sorry for my team. Points lost. And I was giving it everything all weekend. But we move forward and I will try and do a better job [in Holland] next weekend.”

F1 chiefs confirm Spa will host GP next year

It was the first race this year Hamilton failed to finish and completed a miserable weekend for the seven-time world champion who arrived in Belgium talking up his chances of a win, only to find that his Mercedes was miles off the pace.

Hamilton complained it felt as if he was “dragging a parachute” behind him in qualifying on Saturday as he went almost two seconds slower than Red Bull’s runaway championship leader Max Verstappen.

While this year’s title battle is all but over, there was good news for the sport in general, with an announcement just before the start of Sunday’s race that the Belgian Grand Prix would feature on the 2023 calendar.

A perennial fan favorite, Spa was in the final year of its contract and there had been speculation that it might have to make way for new and returning races.

It may only prove to be a stay of execution with the sport only prepared to confirm next year’s race for now.

“Formula 1 can confirm that the Belgian Grand Prix will be on the 2023 calendar following an agreement to extend our partnership together,” read the statement. “Further details on the 2023 calendar will be announced in due course.”

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