Lewis Hamilton refuses to criticise Schumacher tactics

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton refused to criticise Michael Schumacher despite appearing to be held up by the Mercedes driver at the Italian Grand Prix.

The pair were racing for third when Schumacher, who had overtaken Hamilton when the safety car retreated, seemed to swerve twice to defend his lead.

A driver is only allowed to move once, and Mercedes boss Ross Brawn reminded Schumacher of that on his team radio.

When asked for his take, Hamilton told BBC Sport: "That's racing."

However, during the race, the Briton had complained about the seven-time world champion, saying over the team radio: "I thought you were only allowed one move."

Hamilton, who was earlier forced on to the grass while trying to overtake the German, causing him to lose fourth place to team-mate Jenson Button, preferred instead to reflect on his own performance.

"It was a good race," said the British driver. "I got some points and I finished, so I can't complain.

"I was watching Michael [Schumacher] in my mirrors [at the restart after the safety car] and I missed an opportunity to slipstream Sebastian Vettel.

"But once I got past [Schumacher] I had fun chasing [Fernando] Alonso."

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh suggested that McLaren were unhappy with Schumacher, stating: "He [Hamilton] had a fair amount of provocation and frustration in that race. I think someone drove him off the circuit pretty aggressively at one stage."

Schumacher was warned about his driving by the stewards, prompting Brawn to tell him via the radio: "Just a reminder, Michael, please make sure you leave room for the car when you move and change direction."

However, the German felt he had done little wrong in keeping the quicker McLaren behind him while defending his lead on lap 20.

When asked whether he had impeded Hamilton, Schumacher told BBC Sport: "I don't think so. I did exactly what I was supposed to do and there was no request to see the stewards so I guess all is in order."

Brawn admitted after the race: "The FIA were watching it [the incident with Hamilton] and asking us to be careful.

"It is a balance between racing and not overstepping the mark. They asked us to be careful, which we were. It was great racing - and great for F1."

Whitmarsh was full of praise for the way both Hamilton and Button conducted themselves while stuck behind Schumacher.

"It doesn't matter what I think on these occasions, it's what the stewards believe and it was necessary to warn him [Schumacher] on several occasions," he said.

"It must be massively frustrating when you're in the car so congratulations to both [Hamilton and Button] who certainly had the pace today.

"To be held up like that for the first part of the race to keep your calm when you know your competition is creeping away from you and you know you can go quicker, it's very easy to be slightly impetuous.

"You have to congratulate Lewis in particular because it's very easy to lose a piece of your car trying to get past one that's moving around quite a lot and has top-end speed and has that level of aggression."

By the time Hamilton got past Schumacher, on lap 28, he was only up to fourth place as Button had already gone into third with a smart overtaking move of his own.

"It was tricky to catch [Hamilton and Schumacher] but when I did all hell broke loose really," said Button.

"There were cars everywhere. It was a lot of fun. I think Lewis went for a gap with Michael that wasn't there on the exit of Turn 2 and I got the run on him and then set about getting past Michael."

Button then went past Ferrari's Fernando Alonso into second, while Hamilton set about chasing the Spaniard.

However, Alonso kept Hamilton behind him on the final lap to join race-winner Vettel and second-placed Button on the podium, to the delight of Ferrari's Italian fans.