Lewis Hamilton defends bid to pass McLaren team-mate Jenson Button

Lewis Hamilton has defended his attempt to overtake McLaren team-mate Jenson Button which brought his own Canadian Grand Prix to an early end.

Hamilton collided with race winner Button when he tried to pass him up the outside as the pair came down into the first corner of lap eight.

"He made a mistake into the last corner so I got the run on him and was on the outside," said Hamilton.

"He just kept moving across, whether or not he saw me, and I was in the wall."

The former world champion added: "I haven't seen the footage yet, but I felt that I was halfway up the outside on him.

"There was nothing I could do. It was too late for me to bale out. I thought I'd be going past but he didn't leave me any room.

"I don't think it was intentional. I know Jenson quite well and he wouldn't do that. I thought I was alongside him, but it doesn't matter now."

Button, who reacted to the contact by angrily asking his team what Hamilton was doing, escaped the incident unharmed and went on to record what he called the "best win" of his career, but Hamilton's back tyre was badly damaged.

However the 26-year-old suggested McLaren were mistaken in believing he could not continue.

"It was only the tyre that was busted so I put the diff-lock [a mechanism that increases traction] on and I was going to drive it back to the garage and the team told me to retire.

"I thought that the suspension had gone, because that was what they told me, but it turns out it was not."

Hamilton had already been involved in an incident with Mark Webber two laps earlier, and later apologised for the touch that sent the Red Bull spinning.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insisted that the accident between Hamilton and Button would not affect the good relationship between his two drivers.

"Jenson didn't know he was there and Lewis was trying to make good progress. There's no issue - they both see it the same way," he said.

"Lewis is always going to be a passionate race driver, he's always going to go for it, and it would be wrong of us to try and defuse that passion."

Hamilton's early exit from the Montreal race follows a controversial Monaco Grand Prix a fortnight earlier in which he was penalised by the stewards on two occasions for clashes with Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Williams' Pastor Maldonado respectively.

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard believes Hamilton, who was 0.551secs slower than Vettel in qualifying, is straining to make the most of a car that has so far failed to match the dominant Red Bulls.

"It's easy to knock someone when they're involved in a series of incidents, but it's why Lewis has so many fans around the world," he said.

"This is just a phase he's going through. He believes he's the best driver in the world, but right now McLaren are not able to give him a winning car, and he's getting frustrated.

"He wants to win, and that passion, that drive, is what's causing him to get up close and personal with other cars."

But Hamilton was the target of stiff criticism from three-time world champion Niki Lauda.

"He is completely mad. If [governing body] the FIA does not punish him, I do not understand the world any more," he said while commentating on the race for German broadcaster RTL.

"At some point there has to be an end to all the jokes. You cannot drive like this as it will result in someone getting killed."

Hamilton believes he can avoid trouble by showing better form leading up to the race and securing a better grid position.

He added: "Onwards and upwards. Go to the next one and try to stay out of trouble. It would be great if we could qualify a little bit higher and try to avoid these sorts of situations, but that's the way it is."

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