IndyCar drivers James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal have joined Tony Kanaan in hitting back at Lewis Hamilton following his comments about the quality of the IndyCar Series.
The Briton, who has won three Formula One drivers' championships, questioned the quality of the American motor racing series after Fernando Alonso qualified fifth for the legendary Indianapolis 500 race held on 28 May.
The Spanish driver, who drives for McLaren in F1, skipped the Monaco Grand Prix for a one-off appearance in IndyCar and after just weeks of practice, he managed to qualify in P5. This led Hamilton to question the level of competition in the series, which has not gone down well with the regular IndyCar drivers.
"Fernando, in his first qualifying, came fifth. Does that say something about (the level) of IndyCar?" Hamilton told L'Equipe, as quoted on Fox Sports. "Great drivers, if they can't succeed in Formula One, look for titles in other races, but to see him come fifth against drivers who do this all year around is... interesting."
Kanaan, who was speaking at the banquet following the Indianapolis 500 race, was the first to hit back, but has now been joined by his fellow colleagues Hinchcliffe and Rahal during the Detroit IndyCar event. They were livid that the Mercedes driver criticised the American series, when F1 has been a two-car battle for three seasons, before the emergence of Ferrari this season.
"It's funny hearing comments about the depth of our field from someone that only has to race three other cars," Hinchcliffe said, as quoted on Planet F1.
"When I saw Lewis Hamilton's comment, you guys know me, it took me everything I had in my body not to say something. Legitimately, in Formula One, over his entire career, it's been a two-car race, four max, max..." Rahal added, commenting about Mercedes' dominance over the rest of the field in the last three seasons.
"IndyCar racing, this is the seventh race, seventh different winner. That doesn't happen in other motor sports. Period. So no matter what anybody wants to say, it's a great form of motor sports.
"I can't imagine the feeling of going to each and every race weekend and knowing that all I got to do is beat my team-mate and I'm going to win. But that doesn't happen here. So it was rewarding to have a day like today," Rahal added.