Fernando Alonso claimed “this guy only knows how to drive and start in first” of Lewis Hamilton after their tangle at the Belgian Grand Prix but statistics have indicated, by contrast, the truth is actually quite the opposite. Hamilton took the blame for a first-lap collision with Alonso which saw his Mercedes jump up into the air and crash back down on the tarmac.
After a strong start, Hamilton was running P4 and looking to overtake Alonso around the outside heading into the Les Combes chicane at Spa but squeezed the Spaniard with the impact lifting the Briton’s car up into the air. The damage sustained from the subsequent smash back down into the ground saw the seven-time world champion forced into an early retirement.
Alpine driver Alonso fumed on his team radio and said: “What an idiot, closing the door from the outside. I mean, we had a mega start, but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first.” And Hamilton, told about his rival’s words, reacted post-race: “It doesn’t really matter what he said. I don’t care. Like I said, it was my fault, I couldn’t see him.”
But statistics supplied by F1 statman Sean Kelly indicate that despite Alonso’s claim – which was said in the heat of the moment – Hamilton is actually incredibly astute at the wheel when not starting on pole – despite his struggles in Mercedes’ W13 this season. Of his 103 career race victories, 42 have come when Hamilton did not start on pole.
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That means he has won more races from second or lower than the likes of world champions Ayrton Senna (41), Alonso (32), Nigel Mansell (31) and Max Verstappen (29) have in total no matter where they started at lights out. Hamilton of course owns the all-time record for most wins in F1 history.
He is the only driver ever to break the 100 landmark, with Michael Schumacher – the only other racer to win seven titles – ending on 91. This could be his first ever season in the sport without a single win though with the Silver Arrows still behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris despite upgrades.
Alonso post-race admitted his surprise that Hamilton shouldered the blame for the incident. The two-time world champion, who was team-mates with Hamilton at McLaren earlier in their careers, had calmed down by the time he spoke to media and said: “I mean, I was surprised, and for sure he now saw the incident and he takes the responsibility, which is obviously very nice from him.
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“It was a lap one incident, nothing really to say there. The stewards, they didn’t say anything because these things happen, especially in that corner. It happened in the past, I remember also with Lewis and [former Mercedes team-mate Nico] Rosberg [in 2014]. It’s a tricky corner.
“I was frustrated in that moment for sure; every time we start in the first row, second row or we are fighting top two, top three, there is something going on. And yeah, I was frustrated but luckily my car was very strong, and nothing happened, I could continue. Lewis did not have that luck and had to retire the car.”
Hamilton’s DNF leaves him on 146 points in the Drivers’ Championship, 138 adrift of Red Bull’s Verstappen who was his title rival last season. The Briton is also 24 points behind team-mate George Russell, while Alonso ended the Belgian Grand Prix P5 and sits on 51 points for the year.