Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Hamilton labels Vettel's driving a 'disgrace' after heated Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Frederick Owens | 28 June, 2017, 04:56

Vettel was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty, plus three penalty points on his licence, when deemed to have driven in a potentially risky manner by swerving into Hamilton ahead of a safety vehicle restart while furious at what he felt had been a brake-test.

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel crosses the finish line ahead of Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit.

The biggest controversy came courtesy of Vettel, who responded to what he perceived as "brake testing" by Hamilton behind the safety vehicle by pulling up alongside the Briton and swerving into his Mercedes.

Despite the incident, Vettel managed to extend his championship lead - finishing ahead of Hamilton in fourth after the Mercedes driver pitted from the lead after his car's head rest came loose.

Hamilton, who was leading after making a clean start from the 66th pole position of his career, had initially slowed to avoid the slow-moving safety auto ahead of him, an action that may have caused Vettel to drive into the rear of his Mercedes.

"If you think about it yes, but nobody can criticize the stewards because they are what they are, like a referee; but they could have done more, certainly because I think it's the worst you can do".

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"He was obviously sleeping and driving alongside and deliberately driving into a driver and coming away scot-free is is a disgrace".

Hamilton has already described Vettel's actions in Baku as a disgrace and demanded that, if they are to clash, they should do so like "men" outside the vehicle. "It says it all". I don't think it was deliberate of him to brake-check me, I don't think he's that kind of guy. I'll do that just with him and clear it and move on. Vettel now leads the FIA World Championship standings with 153 points, followed closely by bitter rival Hamilton who ended the weekend with 139 points. "This I don't understand", Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said. "No question. But to drive next to him and hit him on goal, I have never seen anything like this. I don't need to say anything else", Hamilton told Sky Sports. The frustrated and angry man of 2016, who raged at rivals and had to apologise to race director Charlie Whiting in Mexico last November after an expletive-laden radio rant, was back.

Vettel's anger was triggered because he felt Hamilton had committed an offence known in F1 as "brake-testing" - when the driver in front deliberately slows down to cause problems for the one behind.

"I just went over the curb, bottomed out, the vehicle jumped and hit him and I got a puncture". If I'm struggling, people at the back are struggling even more so I don't think it was necessary.

But if Vettel stays out of trouble in Austria then three of those points will drop off his licence, not that the German has any plans to take it easy.

Title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel came to blows. Asked if the ramming incident tainted Vettel's reputation, racing legend Lauda said: "Sure".

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