SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Sep 16 (Reuters) Lewis Hamilton learned a lesson today about just how hard McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso is prepared to fight in defence of his Formula One title.
The 22-year-old Briton, who leads Alonso by two points with three races remaining, was unimpressed after being forced off the track by the double world champion at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Hamilton questioned the Spaniard's sense of fair play as well as his loyalty to a team hard hit by a spying controversy, with the loss of all their constructors' points and a record 0 million fine.
''I started to accelerate and all of a sudden Fernando came sweeping across me, and he knew I was there, so...,'' Hamilton said.
Asked whether such a manouevre might be considered hard but fair, he replied: ''I wouldn't say fair, but it was hard.'' ''For someone that's always complaining about people doing unfair manoeuvres, and wanting to be fair, and someone I look up to...he has gone and swiped me and pushed me as wide as he could,'' he added.
''I was just really lucky there was a run-off area so I could take that.'' OUTRIGHT COLDNESS Alonso, whose relations with Hamilton and the Mercedes-powered team have deteriorated to the point of outright coldness, played down the incident.
''In the first corner, Felipe (Massa) locked the front tyre a little bit and was blocking the inside and I had no space, or I had a bad exit from turn one,'' he said. ''I think also Lewis went wide at the exit of turn one...'' Team boss Ron Dennis said it was part of racing.
''It was a little bit on the edge, they will have a conversation about it and then they will move on,'' he told reporters.
''This is just one of those things, pushing on each other.
They are fighting for the world championship, they are going to be a little bit tough on each other. But it's nothing.'' Hamilton said he intended to have words with Alonso anyway.
''I felt there was enough room for all of us to get around, but somehow I ran out of road. It is up to you to decide how that happened,'' he said.
Asked whether he had learnt something that he could use further down the road, he replied simply: ''Yes''.
''It has been a tough week, and for sure a lot tougher week for me than for Fernando because...I won't say any more.'' The Briton attended Thursday's Paris spy hearing with team management while Alonso, who has been linked with a return to Renault and whose e-mail evidence was used against McLaren in the hearing, went straight to Spa.
''I feel more attached to the team, I guess, and I care a bit more I think,'' said Hamilton.
Reuters SR VP0005