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GP Week : Issue 63
Lewis: Sorry for that, guys! LEWIS Hamilton has apologised to his McLaren Mercedes team for crashing out of third position on the nal lap of the Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton, who had started the race from pole position was set for a podium finish after his two-stop strategy left him behind the eventual race-winning BrawnGP cars, and the Briton admitted his race-ending accident had come as a result of him pushing over the limit to make up a place on the last lap. "I wasn't on the optimal strategy so I really had to push to make my two-stopper work," he said. "I got every tenth out of the car that I could possibly get and I didn't make any mistakes -- until the last lap. It's unfortunate -- but these things happen, it's a racing incident. I was pushing incredibly hard on that lap to try to get close to Jenson and use KERS to pass him, then I exited the first Lesmo and the back-end got away from me and I went backwards into the wall." Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh refused to take issue with Hamilton's driving, insisting that the world champion's never- say-die attitude was what marked him out from his rivals. "Lewis walked away unharmed from what was a pretty big shunt -- simply the result of his never-give-up attitude, his unquenchable desire to fight until the very last metre of the very last lap," he explained. "Throughout the final stint he'd been pushing as hard as he possibly could, driving beautifully, right on the limit, in an effort to catch Jenson [Button] for second place, and he pushed just a fraction too hard -- and the result was that he lost it on the exit of the first Lesmo on that final lap. He'd just gone 'purple' in the first sector of that final lap, in fact. "But that's the nature of a driver like Lewis, and there aren't many like him; if you give it 100 per cent on every single lap, every so often you'll give it 101 per cent -- and then the result will be an 'off'. But that's racing, and Lewis is very definitely a racer, and we wouldn't want him any other way." BRAWNGP drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello have vowed to continue to work as a team in spite of their close battle for the drivers' championship. With a Brawn 1-2 in Italy on a weekend in which the Red Bull drivers were well o the pace, the championship battle has swung in the direction of the early season favourites, but both have said that it will not a ect their relationship. "I think we're still going to be sharing information because there's always the possibility that the Red Bulls will be strong, you never know, and we might have some bad luck," said Button. "But when we go on the circuit we're obviously erce rivals. We're not going to give up until the end. I've obviously got the advantage of 14 points; it's got smaller at the last couple of races but Rubens is going to be a very tough rival for sure. He's skilled behind the wheel, as we've seen for many years and he's been able to show his talent." Barrichello agreed with his team- mate, and said he would not hide set-up secrets from Button. "I think the best thing in life is respect. Obviously, when we're nding that the softer spring or the harder spring is the better thing for the car, you go to the other side of the garage and tell them that's what you have found. But it's an open book there. We have our meetings and we both go through the check list at the same time, live, so we both can hear. At the end of the day, the cars get very similar but that's ne, that's how it is." The Dream Team 26