Fernando Alonso, never one to mince his words from the cockpit, really put in the knife in Lewis Hamilton after the ex-Formula 1 World Champions collided on the opening lap of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard, famous for insulting Honda’s “Formula 2” engine when he drove for McLaren, fired a nasty remark claiming Hamilton can only drive well when he starts from first.
The first lap incident at Les Combes saw Hamilton go for an ambitious round the outside move into the first right turn of the complex, but simply did not give Alonso’s Alpine enough room.
The Mercedes mounted the Alpine, and got airborne before crunching back onto the tarmac broken. It was a hefty impact which prompted an immediate “I am so sorry, guys” as Hamilton was forced to park the stricken Mercedes.
Meanwhile, Alonso was fuming, and let it be known over the radio: “What an idiot closing the door from the outside. I mean, we have a mega start, but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first.”
The Alpine veteran soldiered on, despite minor damage to the Alpine, to claim a hard-earned but well-deserved sixth place after Ferrari fumbled Charles Leclerc’s strategy in the closing stages of the race.
Later, in the team report Alonso was more contrite when he reflected: “The incident with Lewis [Hamilton] was also unfortunate, but it’s a racing incident and the car seemed fine despite the contact.”
Meanwhile, images of disheartened Lewis alighting his car and walking away from the scene went viral
Invariably the imagery told such a stark story of the Mercedes driver’s plight; a good opportunity went begging for the seven-time F1 world champion on Sunday, walking back to the garage without a lap under his belt.
An hour or so after the incident, Hamilton emerged to face the media, touching on Alonso’s wicked criticism: “I know how things go in the heat of the moment, but it is nice to know how he feels about me, and it is better that it is out in the open about how he feels.”
Hamilton then went on to explain the violence of the crash: “I nearly broke my back coming down. I am grateful to still be alive and in shape. I am sure I will feel sore tomorrow. The incident wasn’t intentional. I take responsibility for it. That is what adults do. We move on.”
Asked if he would confront Alonso after the incident: “No. I mean I would have until I heard what he said. I just feel sorry for my team, we have lost points, and I was giving it everything all weekend. But we move forwards and I will try and do a better job next weekend.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff exonerated the 103-time Grand Prix winner: “Lewis has started at the front a lot, and he’s won seven world championships, so the strategy has worked. What we saw today rarely happens to Lewis.”
Hamilton has yet to win a Grand Prix this season, something he has done every season since his rookie year in 2007. The Briton lies sixth in the 2022 F1 drivers’ standings on 146 points, while Max Verstappen on 264 leads the standings after 14 rounds.