Britain’s Lewis Hamilton has issued an apology to Felipe Massa for their latest collision and hopes that the two of them can patch up their differences after a fractious few weeks on and off track.
Speaking ahead of the Korean Grand Prix, the 26-year-old McLaren driver said he failed to see Massa’s Ferrari in his mirrors at Suzuka last weekend, in an incident where the furious Brazilian lost part of his front wing.
Hamilton said he was sorry and hoped that, like him, Massa also wanted to put the events of recent weeks behind them and “be cool”.
“Of course, the situation has not been great for some time now, but I think I’ve always had respect for Felipe and I still do today regardless of the negative comments that he is coming out with,” he said.
“It is easy in this sport when you are competitive and in the heat of the moment to say things you don’t mean. Whether or not he does mean them, regardless, I have tried to show respect and particularly in the last race.
“I am really sorry for that, I really didn’t see him. I saw the replay – he was quite far up alongside me, out of my mirrors and I could not see anything,” Hamilton added.
“So by the time I saw him it was too late. I’ve been in the wrong place in the last few races. I had the car to be a bit further ahead.
“Perhaps if I was doing the right job I wouldn’t be in this situation with Felipe, but all respect due – and I hope in the future we can put our guards down and he can be cool with me. I am cool with him.”
The two have been drawn to each other like magnets on the track this year and have collided several times including brushes in both Singapore and Japan in recent weeks.
In Singapore, Massa interrupted television interviews after the race to criticise Hamilton and lampoon his hopes of challenging for the world championship.
On Thursday, the Brazilian said: “I have nothing to say. The only thing is that we always need to think about moving forward.
“I really saw many mistakes from him and that is it. I tried to speak to him, he didn’t want it and to be honest I don’t care any more.
“I will not go and speak to him. I will carry on doing my job like always so it is okay. I always look to the future.”
Massa added that he was not planning to take up the matter with the ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA).
But he was mystified by Hamilton’s explanation that his mirrors let him down.
“I can see everything, no problem. In my car I don’t have a problem, to be honest,” Massa said.