Okay, let’s set the record straight: Fernando Alonso did not give Lewis Hamilton a brake test when the pair collided on the second lap. I don’t say this from any position of smug ‘I told you so’ authority. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The accident, as Hamilton powered into the back of the Renault as he accelerated from Turn 3, looked so bizarre that I passed opinion on BBC Radio 5 Live that Alonso might have been unable to resist the temptation to momentarily lift his foot from the throttle. Given the drag coefficient of an F1 car, such a move would have the same effect as dabbing the brake pedal.
I mean, let’s be honest here, Alonso is not exactly enjoying finishing outside the points in a car that is continuing to disappoint and, being a cynic, I reckoned he would happily sacrifice a finish on the rare chance he would have to screw up his old mate Lewis’ race. The incident certainly had that effect as Hamilton had to stop for a new nose and went onto a one-stop strategy which failed to gain much ground from the back of the field.
Alonso lost an element of his rear wing but managed to continue into tenth place. In fact, Hamilton laid no blame at the door of his former team mate, and the Renault telemetry showed very clearly that Alonso’s right foot was firmly to the floor throughout, the only slight blip being where the Renault V8 whipped through the gears. Oh, and I believe McLaren reckon there had been a failure of the bridge section of the front nose wing seconds before the incident, a fracture that could have resulted in a sudden surge of straight-line speed.
Whatever the reason behind Hamilton climbing all over the Renault, it’s fair to say he had been desperate to make up for a disastrous error at the start. Having got himself onto third place on the grid, Hamilton threw it all away by failing to press the right button seconds before the start. Although the electronics have been severely restricted on the 2008 F1 cars, there are various engine mapping settings that can be engaged. Hamiton was not only too slow off the mark with his thumb, the electronics, not realising the start was imminent, but the car automatically engaged anti-stall.
The effect was like chugging away from the traffic lights in second gear. The thing that impressed me most was the fact that Hamilton came clean, admitted his mistake and put it behind him at the end of a disastrous weekend.
Without naming names, I can think of one former British world champion with a silly moustache who would have blamed the team, the maker of his driving gloves, the Germans and, of course, the News Of The World.