Fernando Alonso has apologised to Lewis Hamilton after the pair clashed on track at the Belgian Grand Prix. Before this week’s Dutch GP, the Spaniard admitted he was wrong in calling Hamilton “an idiot” and questioning his driving skill. Hamilton said he had not spoken to Alonso but insisted he had already dismissed the row.
The two drivers endured a trying year as teammates at McLaren when Hamilton made his F1 debut in 2007. They have since enjoyed a good relationship on and off track but at Spa Alonso was furious when Hamilton hit him while attempting to pass at Les Combes.
The clash ended Hamilton’s race and over team radio Alonso referred to him as an idiot for causing the collision and said the Mercedes driver only knew how to drive when starting at the front.
Hamilton conceded the incident had been his fault. Alonso said he would speak to Hamilton at Zandvoort on Thursday but when asked, Hamilton said they had not conversed. “We were standing right next to each other in the TV pen but no,” he said. “It’s not a thing for me. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t really affect me in the slightest.”
Earlier in the week Hamilton had prepared a signed Mercedes cap to give to Alonso – which Mercedes showed on social media – with the words “For Fernando” written on it and which was duly given to Alonso. Hamilton said he wanted to set an example of behaving in a sporting fashion.
“With the cap it was just a little fun thing. It’s good to have fun sometimes with these things,” he said. “I am always trying to be a better driver, also I know there are a lot of young kids that are following me and it’s important the steps I try to take in my behaviour so I am always trying to learn and be better.”
The four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel also dismissed Alonso’s remarks as unacceptable. “We are aware of the fact that radio calls are public and I think it was a very disrespectful comment,” he said. “Lewis is one of the fairest drivers on the grid, I don’t think he had any intentions to be unfair and made a mistake. We all make mistakes, even Fernando sometimes makes mistakes.”
Alonso, however, did pay tribute to Hamilton, stressed his respect for him and said his comments had been an overreaction made in the heat of the moment that had been blown out of proportion. “Nothing I said is true and there are facts that show the opposite. I have absolutely no problems with Lewis. I have huge respect for him.” he said. “He’s a champion, he’s a legend of our time.
“When you say something against a British driver, there is a huge media involvement after that but anyway, yes I apologise. I’m not thinking what I said. The heat of the moment, the adrenaline of the moment, fighting finally for the top two, top three made me say those comments that I should not say.”
The Alpine driver, who is moving to join Aston Martin next season, did however criticise F1 for only broadcasting the radio messages that would provoke controversy. “In football, in tennis you have your moments of privacy with your team,” he said. “I know it’s part of the show. As I said, all the things broadcast on the radio are a bit spicy because the sport wants that spice into the race.”