Lewis Hamilton went from hero to zero after crashing into Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen in a bizarre pit-lane pile-up at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Lewis, a near champion last year (lost by a point) made a silly stupid mistake by ramming to Kimi Raikonnen in the pit lane. The 23-year-old McLaren driver, who covered himself in glory by winning in Monaco two weeks ago, kissed goodbye to his championship lead with the most embarrassing moment of his fledgling Formula One career.
Hamilton, who was branded "stupid" by Raikkonen, was handed a 10-place grid penalty for shunting the world champion out of the Montreal race in a pit-lane collision last Sunday.
Leading the race from pole position at the scene of his first grand prix victory last year, Hamilton ploughed into the back of Raikkonen's stationary Ferrari after they pitted on lap 20 while the safety car was deployed.
The Finn had stopped at the red light at the end of the pit lane, with BMW Sauber's Polish driver Robert Kubica waiting alongside for the all-clear to rejoin the race. Lewis who came in first was probably mad coming out third after Kimi and Robert and eager to take back the position lost.
Hamilton failed to brake in time, with German driver Nico Rosberg then adding to his misery by shunting the McLaren with his Williams.
"We got into the pitstop, it wasn't a great stop and I saw the two guys in front of me and they were battling in the pit lane," Hamilton told Britain's ITV television.
"I was obviously trying to make sure I didn't get involved with those guys. I saw the red light but by the time they had stopped and I had seen the red light it was a bit late," he continued.
"It's a lot different if you crash into the wall and you are angry with yourself. It's not like that. I apologise to Kimi if I've ruined his race but that sort of thing happens."
The incident happened at the exit from the pit lane after the first round of stops and took both drivers out of the race. Raikkonen, whose car was stationary at a red light signal, said: "My race was ruined by Hamilton's mistake.
"Obviously, anyone can make mistakes - as I did two weeks ago in Monaco [when Raikkonen shunted Force India's Adrian Sutil out of the race].
"It's one thing to make a mistake at 200 miles per hour but another to hit a car stopped at a red light."
He added: "If I go 300 kph, lose control and hit somebody it is natural. But if there is a pit-lane speed limit and two cars stopped and you hit them, it is stupid. I saw a red light and chose to stop, someone else saw a red light and chose not to.
"I am not angry - because that doesn't achieve anything and does not change my result! I am unhappy, because I had a great chance of winning."
Whitmarsh agreed that Ferrari and Raikkonen were the "innocent victims". And he explained that the pitlane had been unusually congested, with drivers pitting during the safety car period, and Hamilton had to monitor the cars ahead of him as well as the keeping an eye on the lights.
But he said McLaren had never considered protesting the penalty. "We're going into France with a 10-place penalty for Lewis so that will clearly affect our approach. Without giving too much away, I suspect he'll run a little bit longer in the first stint than would otherwise have been the case," he said. "We haven't modelled it yet, but intuitively that's what we'll probably do."