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MAY 29, 2011

Disgruntled Hamilton escapes meaningful penalty

Lewis Hamilton has been given a 20s penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Pastor Maldonado in the closing stages of the Monaco GP.

Hamilton had already been given a Drive Through penalty after early race contact with Felipe Massa, when the accident with Maldonado with five laps to go ended the Venezuelan's race when he was on course to score his first points of the season for Williams.

With the incident late in the race, what would have been a second Drive Through penalty was commuted to a 20s addition to Hamilton's race time which, as he was the last unlapped runner, had no effect on the result.

"Out of six races, I've been to the stewards five times. It's a joke," an obviously frustrated Hamilton told the BBC. "It's an absolute frickin' joke."

Asked why he thought the stewards were targeting him, Hamilton joked: "Maybe it's because I'm black. That's what Ali G says. I don't know."

Hamilton claimed that the coming together with Massa was the Brazilian's fault. "I was quite a lot quicker than Massa," he added. "I went up the inside and the guy turned so early and just turned into me. So I tried to go over the kerb to avoid him and we were stuck together.

"And of course I get the penalty, which is usual. He held me up in qualifying and I got the penalty. He turned into me, and I got the penalty."

Hamilton also believes he was blameless in the Maldonado incident when the McLaren tried to go inside the Williams at Ste Devote, Monaco's first corner.

"I went up the inside of Maldonado and you can see that he turned in a good car length too early to stop me overtaking him and he crashed into me. It's just ridiculous. These drivers are absolutely frickin' ridiculous. Just stupid."

Asked what he planned to do next, Hamilton said, "some jet skiing and keep my mouth shut." Many, however, believed that it was a little bit too late for the latter...

Massa said that overtaking at Loews hairpin is not really on and that he had tried to give Hamilton a little room, clipping Mark Webber's Red Bull and damaging his front wing in the process. The damaged wing, he said, caused him to understeer wide in the tunnel and crash out of the race.

Commenting on the incident at Ste Devote, Maldonado said, "Hamilton was so far back I wasn't even looking for him. I don't know what he was thinking."

Former Toyota F1 and current Audi sportscar driver Allan McNish was the driver representative on the Monaco stewards panel and many believe that Hamilton was fortunate not to receive more serious sanction for the Maldonado incident, especially in view of his earlier Drive Through penalty.

Having labeled race stewarding 'a joke' and some of his fellow drivers 'frickin' ridiculous' it could be argued that Hamilton has left himself open to disrepute charges. Certainly in the Max Mosley era he may have had cause to fear the consequences but current FIA president Jean Todt has thus far proven lower profile and less confrontational with regard to on-track F1 issues.