BRITISH driver Lewis Hamilton hit back at Pastor Maldonado yesterday after the Venezuelan crashed into Hamilton’s McLaren and knocked him out of the European Grand Prix with little more than one lap to go.
The eighth Formula One race of the season was won by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, but controversy struck behind the Spaniard as Maldonado collided into Hamilton while chasing third place.
Maldonado’s offence was later punished, with the authorities adding 20 seconds to his race time.
“You never let people past – you need to race for every position you get. That’s racing,” Hamilton said, after Maldonado accused the Brit of forcing him off the track.
Williams driver Maldonado pleaded his innocence. “He tried to put me out of the track. He left no room. I jumped the kerb and couldn’t avoid him,” he said.
The pair clashed on lap 56 in Valencia, leaving a furious Hamilton stricken off the track, while Maldonado’s damaged Williams car could only limp to a 10th place finish. Following his penalty, his finish was demoted to 12th place.
Hamilton, who threw his steering wheel out of the car in anger after the collision, had earlier been thwarted by yet another faulty McLaren pit-stop. He has suffered similar incidents already this year, yet on this occasion refused to blame the Woking team.
Hamilton was close to crossing the line in third prior to the crash, which allowed veteran German Michael Schumacher onto the podium for the first time this season.
Joining Schumacher and Alonso on the podium was Kimi Raikkonen, who earned a second-place finish for his Lotus team.
Alonso’s win, completed in one hour, 44 minutes and 16 seconds, was a resounding victory after the Ferrari man climbed his way up from 11th place on the grid.
The result leaves Alonso top of the drivers’ standings on 111 points, 20 points ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who finished fourth. Hamilton is third in the rankings on 88 points.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who led for most of the race, retired after his car broke down on lap 35. The Lotus of Romain Grosjean also failed to complete the race. Both cars use a Renault engine.