Whitmarsh: Massa was ‘slightly aggressive’

Date published: September 26 2011

Martin Whitmarsh has praised Lewis Hamilton for not rising to the challenge when he was grabbed “slightly aggressively” by Felipe Massa…

Martin Whitmarsh has praised Lewis Hamilton for not rising to the challenge when he was grabbed “slightly aggressively” by Felipe Massa.

With Hamilton crashing into Massa – and not for the first time this season – the rather unhappy Ferrari driver approached Hamilton while he was giving a post-race interview to Dutch TV.

Slapping him on the shoulder and grabbing his arm, a few words were exchanged between the duo before Hamilton walked away.

“Felipe approached Lewis in the post-race TV interview enclosure and grabbed him slightly aggressively,” said Whitmarsh.

“That riled Lewis, understandably so, but he acted with commendable restraint and walked away from any potential confrontation.

“Later, he decided to walk away from talking about the incident too because he didn’t want to escalate the situation.

“He did absolutely nothing wrong.”

The McLaren team boss also defended his driver, saying the team needs to shoulder some of the blame for Hamilton’s level of frustration after disappointing 2011 campaign.

“Various things have happened. The team can take some blame and Lewis can take some blame.

“I think sometimes in motor racing other things just don’t go your way and you have those runs. I think it has been a tough season, but we still are going to go out there and try and win five races, and Lewis will be trying to do that I am sure.

“When you are told you are back in 18th/19th place on a race like this on a circuit like that, it is deeply, deeply frustrating, so to deal with that and perform as well as he did was extraordinary – so he should have some credit for that.

“But none of us are perfect, the team has made some mistakes and we will make more mistakes. We don’t want to, but that is life. We are pretty open and honest about these things, we don’t conceal them, and that allows people to take a view on it and amplify it.

“As a team we have got to try and get better, Lewis has got to try and get better as a race driver but I think he drove from very difficult circumstances, five times through the pit lane to score valuable points, and get a strong fifth place like that, it was a great drive.”

And as for Massa’s remark that Hamilton will not win another title driving the way he does, Whitmarsh told Autosport: “I think it is wrong. Lewis is still a young guy, he is learning and he will learn from all of this. He will win races and I am sure he is going to win more Championships.

“He is an aggressive and assertive driver but he will win many more races than you or I and I am sure he will win many Championships.”