Tuesday 3rd March 2009
The suspicion that Lewis Hamilton has few, if any, friends on the grid has been endorsed by Felipe Massa's claim that the entire field were rooting for him last year in Brazil.
Heading into the final race of the season, Massa and Hamilton were the only two drivers still in the hunt for the World title with the Brazilian needing a victory and for Hamilton to lower than fifth in order to bag the crown.
And according to the Ferrari driver, who lost out to Hamilton by one point, their fellow racers - presumably with the exception of Hamilton's McLaren team-mate - were rooting for him to win.
"Yes, I think so," he told The Guardian when asked if he felt the support of his fellow racers. "I was very happy. They were supporting me because I always respect everybody. I always respect my team and my competitors. I never had problems with anybody."
Hamilton, in contrast, has endured a number of spats with his rivals, especially his 2007 McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, and enjoyed very little support from the field when he was controversially stripped of his 'win' in the Belgian GP. The Englishman's aggressive style of driving is certainly not to everyone's liking.
"Even when I had problems with somebody, afterwards it was fine," Massa continued. "When I had a problem with (Fernando) Alonso I saw him face to face. He say sorry and it was fine."
Massa's refusal to comment, let alone deny, the suggestion that Hamilton is arrogant was equally telling. "Not going into it [the question] too much," the Ferrari driver responded. "I was quite happy to see that the other drivers were supporting me."
But despite his thoughts on Hamilton, the 27-year-old concedes he doesn't really know the Brit all that well as a person: "Hmm, Not 100%. But in a way yes ..."
Asked point-blank if he likes Hamilton, Massa said: "I think he's OK. In GP2 he was racing for my manager's team but, for sure, I don't have so much experience with him after he comes to F1. Some people change. I don't know if he has changed a lot in his normal life. I don't have so much experience of him to say."
Personal feelings aside, though, Massa admits Hamilton is a top-class driver. "It was clear that what he did in GP2 meant he had a great potential to become a World Champion. But he did it much quicker than any of us expected. I think this year is going to be even more interesting."
Source : Planet F1