Schumacher backs Hamilton over driving style
Montreal: Lewis Hamilton found support for his `all-out attack` driving style coming from an unexpected quarter on Sunday after former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi had accused him of being over-aggressive and dangerous.
Seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, whose history of bold and attacking driving also attracted as many critics as admirers, was the man who moved to defend the 26-year-old Englishman.
The 42-year-old German, now racing for Mercedes, said he disagreed with the views of Fittipaldi - one of the stewards for Sunday`s Canadian Grand Prix - and believed Hamilton did not deserve the punishment he received for his alleged transgressions at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Schumacher said: "In Monaco we know it is very difficult to pass and if somebody doesn`t want it, then it is very hard to avoid a collision. I guess, in two of the four cases he passed people, two didn`t want it and two accepted it.
"It`s a tough situation to be perfectly right. You will always find one or the other opinion on that,- but put it this way -- I would not have given him a penalty for (the incident with) Felipe (Massa) at least."
Schumacher spoke out after Fittipaldi had told the Brazilian website Totalrace that Hamilton needed to show greater respect for other drivers.
Fittipaldi, 64, who started 144 Grands Prix, winning 14 and lifting two drivers` titles, also compared Hamilton, champion in 2008, unfavourably with legendary triple champion Ayrton Senna.
He was quoted saying: "I think Lewis is an exceptional talent, a world champion, but sometimes he is too aggressive when he tries to overtake.
"It was like that in Monaco with Felipe (Massa), placing half of the car in the sidewalk and putting Felipe in a difficult position, at least. He put Felipe in a dangerous position, really.
Hamilton believes his aggressive driving style is exactly what the fans want and he has said there is no difference between the way that he goes about fighting his rivals and the way his hero Senna did.
Fittipaldi said: "Ayrton used to be a very aggressive driver, but I don`t remember seeing him doing what Lewis did, not only in Monaco, but if you turn back three years ago, in the Belgium Grand Prix, in Spa.
"There he did some very critical manoeuvres with Kimi Raikkonen. That sort of aggressive overtaking is not a normal thing to do. I think he is spectacular. From the viewers` point of view it is cool to have a spectacular driver on the grid, it is part of the show.
"But you have to respect the other drivers. When you lack respect and put others in a risky position, it is wrong."
As many drivers and paddock insiders digested the veteran Brazilian`s attack on Hamilton, who has struggled for popularity in the Latin American country since he beat Massa to the title in devastating fashion in 2008, Schumacher spoke out.
The German, a veteran of 273 races and 91 wins, had the advantage of having raced against both men - Senna and Hamilton - and clearly gave the Englishman`s bold style his blessing.
Ironically, after being compared as a bruiser with the great, but also aggressive German, this week, Hamilton said: "I would never put myself in the same sentence as Schumacher.
"Never in my whole career have I ever, on purpose, tried to ruin someone`s race or crash into them. I feel great when I pass someone cleanly and smoothly and have just outsmarted them.
"I`ve not done anything in the wrong way. So I don`t think its fair to compare me to people who have. And I don`t ever plan to be like that. I like to win fairly."
Hamilton qualified in fifth place on the grid in his McLaren for Sunday`s Canadian Grand Prix knowing he neeed to beat defending champion and current leader German Sebastian Vettel to keep his title hopes realistically alive.
Vettel took pole position for Red Bull and has a 58 points lead in the title race, but has never won in Montreal.