Lewis Hamilton: ‘Maybe it’s because I’m black’
Commentators fail to see funny side as Englishman rants over punishments during Monaco Grand Prix
It was a phrase that always got laughs when said by comedian Ali G, but Lewis Hamilton's response on Sunday to the suggestion that he was being targeted by Formula One officials – "maybe it's because I’m black" – drew more gasps of shock than chuckles from onlookers.
The joke – it was clearly an attempt at humour – came during a remarkably heated post-race interview from the Englishman after he finished a lowly sixth in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton was penalised twice by the stewards for incidents in the race which resulted in a clash of cars. The first, a brush with Felipe Massa, earned Hamilton a drive through penalty, while a subsequent tangle with Pastor Maldonado, resulted in a 20-second deduction.
Hamilton, however, refused to take the blame for his aggressive overtaking manoeuvres. "It's an absolute frickin' joke," he fumed in a BBC interview. "I've been to see the stewards five times out of six this season."
He went on: "Massa held me up in qualifying, I got the penalty. He turned in to me [during the race], I got the penalty. These drivers are ridiculous. It's stupid."
Warming to his argument, Hamilton said: "People want to see racing. But you get done trying to put on a show, trying to make a move. Fair play, if I feel I've gone too late I'd hold my hand up to admit I've caused an incident. But it's not the case."
The young former world champion was visibly frustrated with his poor showing in Monaco, the latest bad result in a disappointing start to the season. Yet his reaction to this latest setback, and in particular his suggestion that he was being targeted by F1 officials, drew criticism from commentators.
When asked why he felt stewards were deliberately targeting him, Hamilton responded: "Maybe it's because I'm black. That's what Ali G says. I dunno."
The BBC's F1 commentator Martin Brundle was unimpressed with Hamilton’s rant. "The problem with Lewis is that it's always someone's fault," he said. "You wonder if he needs a bit of a mindset change on that."
Even a change in mentality may come too late for Hamilton – Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is already 58 points ahead of the Englishman at the top of the leader board after winning his fifth race out of six.
"It's not too late [to win the world championship] but it's not looking great," Hamilton admitted. "I gave my all today and the team did a great job. It's character-testing, whether it's right or wrong. I'm going to go chill, do some jet-skiiing, and try to stay out of trouble." ·
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