Fernando Alonso believes his Belgian Grand Prix first-lap collision with Lewis Hamilton was just “a racing incident”, despite his on-track outburst branding his rival an “idiot”.
On the approach to Turn 5 on the opening lap at Spa-Francorchamps, Hamilton attempted to drive his Mercedes around the outside of Alonso’s Alpine, the World Champions having shared the second row of the grid.
However, Alonso did not yield position to Hamilton, who was launched high into the air and suffered a hard landing in the run-off.
Alonso called Hamilton “an idiot” and that “this guy only knows how to drive and start in first” over the team radio, having escaped major damage.
Hamilton shouldered full blame for the incident, which led to his retirement later on the first lap at Blanchimont.
Speaking after the race, Alonso’s views on the incident had somewhat mellowed.
Alonso refers to Hamilton Turn 5 history
The Les Combes chicane was the site of the infamous Hamilton/Nico Rosberg collision during the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix – when the latter tried to go around the outside of the former in similar circumstances.
Rosberg punctured Hamilton’s tyre and the British driver also retired that day. It was something Alonso was quick to pick up on post-race.
“I think for me it was a little bit of a mistake from his side to close the door like this in Turn 5,” he explained to media including RacingNews365.com.
“We see many times [at Spa] that it goes parallel [through the corner].
“It happened [the] same to him with Rosberg a couple of years ago. So this time, it was the same thing.
“It was a first-lap incident and these things happen.
“In that corner especially there are a lot of things that are going on.
“People normally cut the corner in [Turn] 6 and rejoin the track in [Turn] 7. It’s a tricky part of the circuit for sure.
“I think he thought that I was not there anymore, so I don’t think that it is a mistake, just the heat of the moment.
“You try to take the slipstream, brake late, turn in, and sometimes you don’t measure the cars completely, and know where everybody is.
“For sure, I was frustrated in that moment. But I mean he accepted his mistake and it is welcome.”
Alpine strategy “not the smartest” as Alonso finishes P5
Alonso recovered from the clash to take sixth on the road as ‘best of the rest’, but was promoted to fifth post-race as Charles Leclerc was slapped with a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Despite a strong double-points haul for Alpine (16) as Esteban Ocon finished seventh, Alonso suggested the strategy was “not the smartest”.
“We have a very aggressive strategy stopping very early every time that I don’t think that it was the smartest one, but at the end, P5, it makes a good weekend for us,” he explained.
“Fifth and seventh is a great result for the team, [and] it was a bad weekend for McLaren [who scored zero points in their battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship], and we maximised those points.
“I think I will always finish P6, whatever happens in the first lap, but those fun moments of running first, second or third, it last only 500 meters, unfortunately, that was a sad thing about it.
“But I think our race pace was as it has been in the last few events, so no way to race the first three teams.
“And we have a little bit of an advantage compared to the midfield, so we are in no man’s land and we are just doing our own race.”
Alonso is now ninth in the Drivers’ standings on 51 points, 13 behind Ocon on 64.