For the sixth time in their season-long conflict the duo collided, and in the post-race aftermath they then offered different versions of events regarding an attempted reconciliation.
On this occasion the four-man stewards’ panel found Massa at fault for a lap 24 collision, a decision that left the Brazilian stunned, even though he appeared to swipe across Hamilton who was attempting a pass on the inside into a left-handed corner.
That followed an apparent olive branch being offered from Hamilton 15 minutes before the start during the minute’s silence in memory of Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli following their recent deaths.
Hamilton said: “Me and Felipe were standing next to each other. He hasn’t spoken to me for a long, long time, so I made an effort, put my arm around him and said, ‘Good luck for the race’. I just wanted to squash whatever beef, or any anger he has towards me.” Asked as to Massa’s response, Hamilton added: “He gave me a really small acknowledgement, which was to be expected. I wasn’t expecting anything more.”
Massa’s story, though, was slightly different as he countered: “He didn’t try to do anything. He passed through, didn’t even look at my face. And after the one minute’s silence he was on my side, and then he just said, ‘Have a good race’. So this is trying to do what? Saying, ‘Have a good race’? That’s not talking.”
Asked if their head-to-head had now developed into a feud, Massa said: “Maybe for him. In all these incidents, it’s him who has touched my car. I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t have anything against him. Nothing. Zero. And I will tell him what I am telling you now.”
Although Hamilton has insisted Massa is not an enemy, if there are to be any harmonious words, it will not be the Ferrari driver uttering them.
“To be honest, nothing from me,” added Massa, who following their incident in Singapore last month accused Hamilton of losing his mind.From Hamilton, there was again nothing but regret, even though the stewards were on his side in this instance given it was Massa who served a penalty.
In the pen, where drivers conduct interviews with television and radio, Hamilton must have offered his apologies to the team on at least a dozen occasions. In particular, at one stage Hamilton said: “I just can’t apologise enough to my team for the negativity that surrounds me nowadays, and after another disastrous race.”
Asked as to why always Massa, Hamilton added: “I’ve just been in some awkward situations where I’ve been further behind than I should really be due to mistakes. I should have been second on the grid (here, but was given a three-place penalty), and I wouldn’t have been anywhere near Felipe if that had been the case. But any attempt to get by, Felipe is very reluctant to let me. He makes his car as wide as he can be.” Massa’s race ended just ten laps after their collision, in a mirror-image incident of one that occurred in qualifying on Saturday when he broke his front right suspension.
It occurred after he ran over a strip of concrete – one that has been given the unconventional nickname “sausage”. The concrete strips run behind the corners and are designed to prevent drivers from taking a short cut.
On this occasion Massa broke the front left at a time when he was running in fifth after escaping unharmed from the collision with Hamilton, who sustained front-wing damage and could only come home seventh.
Ahead of him, Sebastian Vettel finished first, 8.4 seconds clear of McLaren’s Jenson Button.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was third, in front of Mark Webber in his Red Bull, while Mercedes duo Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were fifth and sixth.
Bathgate’s Paul di Resta was a disappointing 13th for Force India, who opted for a different strategy for the Scot in comparison to team-mate Adrian Sutil, who was ninth.