Lewis Hamilton has to backtrack as 'Ali G joke' backfires
Lewis Hamilton has "made peace" with the Monaco Grand Prix stewards after launching a blistering attack against them in the wake of a penalty-hit race which was won by championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton received two drive-through penalties relating to separate incidents with Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado in his Williams. Immediately after the race, after a visit to the stewards regarding the crash with Maldonado, Hamilton vented his emotions as he said: "It's an absolute frickin' joke.
"I've been to see the stewards five times out of six this season."
Asked as to why he felt the stewards, with British sportscar driver Allan McNish on the four-man panel, were picking on him, Hamilton retorted: "Maybe it's because I'm black."
Hamilton then added, as if to make light of his previous remark: "That's what Ali G says", referring to the fictional television character portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen. However, in an attempt to ensure the racial reference was not blown out of proportion, and as McLaren attempted damage limitation, the 26-year-old opted to revisit the stewards to clear the air.
He said: "I've just been to the stewards to make peace. What I said was a bit of a joke, which wasn't funny at the time. I made them aware that when emotions are high, and it's very intense at the end of those kind of races, you don't always say the right thing, and the joke didn't come at the most appropriate time.
"So I went there, made that clear to them, we've made our peace. They accepted my explanation, they understood. They said: 'We've all competed before and we understand the passion, where you are coming from'. They said that the sports they've been in, they've been angry at referees or said things they didn't mean, so they understood it. We all shook hands afterwards."
Motor sport's world governing body, the FIA, will not hit Hamilton with a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.
They added: "They said at the end that they would make sure other people in the FIA understand. They said that for anybody who has heard it and misunderstood, that they'll clarify it with them and it won't go any further than the meeting room."
Asked whether he wished he had never made the racial accusation, Hamilton added: "Should I have said it, should I not? Like I said I was trying to be funny, but it wasn't funny. You're not always right when you're trying to be funny. Sometimes you really put your foot in it and you offend people, and I did not really set out to offend anyone. It was said at the wrong time."
Hamilton's first penalty, for causing a collision with Massa as he made an attempt to pass on the inside at Loews Hairpin, saw the McLaren ace relegated two places from seventh to ninth at the time.The second, which came as Maldonado manoeuvred around the outside at the first corner, Ste Devote, and resulted in the Venezuelan rookie crashing into a barrier, was served retrospectively after the race.
Twenty seconds were added to Hamilton's elapsed time, although it made no difference to his finishing position of sixth.
Meanwhile Vettel described it as "an extreme honour" in adding his name to the roll call of legends to have won the Monaco Grand Prix.
The German took the chequered flag for the 15th time in his Formula One career, but undoubtedly this victory meant the most to the reigning world champion.
The 23-year-old has now won five of this season's six grands prix, that figure equalling his number of successes last year en route to taking his maiden crown. Vettel, who has now built up a 58-point cushion over Hamilton in the standings, said:
"I am really, really happy. It is a fantastic result and an extreme honour to put my name down on the list of previous winners here, so a perfect day I guess.
"Winning here still feels a bit like a rush, so maybe I'll go to the casino here and get lucky again."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was second, with McLaren's Jenson Button in third in what was a dramatic race.
Scotland's Paul di Resta was 12th for Force India, and like Hamilton, was also in the wars, earning a drive-through penalty at one stage for running into Jaime Alguersuari at Loews.
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