LEWIS HAMILTON crashed into Fernando Alonso on the first lap of the Belgian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton shows off his 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 car
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Fernando Alonso was right to say Lewis Hamilton does not know how to start anywhere other than first according to well-known Russian F1 commentator Alexey Popov. The two former world champions collided on the first lap of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix with the impact sending the Mercedes driver airborne, forcing him to retire from the race. In contrast, the Alpine driver recovered well to finish an impressive fifth.
Tensions rose between the two former McLaren team-mates after the incident, with the Spaniard highly critical of the 103-time race winner over team radio. Speaking immediately after the accident Alonso told his Alpine pit wall: “What an idiot! Closing the door from the outside. I mean, we had a mega start but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first.”
In response, Hamilton said he didn’t care what the Spanish driver had to say but conceded he had been a fault for the collision.
“It doesn’t really matter he said that,” he told Sky Sports F1 in his post-race interview. “I don’t really care. It was my fault. I couldn’t see him actually. He was right in my blind spot.”
Now Russia’s Formula One commentator Popov has got involved claiming there was some truth to Alonso’s insult.
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Lewis Hamilton crashed into Fernando Alonso on the first lap of the Belgian Grand Prix (Image: GETTY)
“If you remove the ugly term ‘idiot’, he means Lewis is not used to fighting in the field. He’s used to starting first and therefore doesn’t feel who is in the so-called ‘blind spot’,” he said.
“But if you’re in the pack all the time, you get used to it. So from that point of view, Fernando is right.”
The commentator’s comments are likely to be unpopular with many within the sport given Hamilton’s proven ability to win races when not starting on pole. The Briton has won 42 races when starting further down the pack, more than the likes of Ayrton Senna managed in their whole careers.
The seven-time world champion has the backing of veteran Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle in the dispute. The Englishman described Alonso’s comments as ‘unfair’ albeit explainable given the high-pressure environment of the cockpit.
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Lewis Hamilton was sent airbourne in his crash with Fernando Alonso (Image: GETTY)
Writing for Sky Sports the former Formula One driver said: “Lewis said he couldn’t see Fernando in his blind spot but frankly he was bound to be there somewhere, and the Spaniard tried his best to stay to the inside and give space. Lewis saw the footage and immediately put his hand up and correctly accepted full responsibility.
“Fernando’s radio comments, albeit fuelled by anger and adrenaline, about Lewis only being able to win from the front were in my opinion wholly inaccurate and unfair. Lewis is one of the fairest and cleanest drivers in the history of F1, he hasn’t needed to resort to too many professional fouls given his relentless speed, and just cast your mind back to Brazil last year to remember how he can scythe through the field. Twice.”
Hamilton and Alonso will revisit their feud this weekend when the Formula One circus rolls into Zandvoort for the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix.