Lewis Hamilton on Sunday accused Formula One rival Sebastian Vettel of disgracing himself and deliberately driving into his car as a bitter clash between the two world championship rivals dominated the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo won in Baku after a chaotic race which saw Ferrari’s Vettel given a 10-second stop-go penalty when he steered into the back of race leader Hamilton’s Mercedes under safety-car conditions.
The four-time Formula One champion seemed infuriated with Hamilton after the British driver slowed on the exit of turn 15. After the initial collision, the German gesticulated angrily with both hands as he then pulled alongside his rival and hit the side of Hamilton’s car.
After his penalty, imposed by the stewards for dangerous driving, Vettel recovered to finish in fourth, one place ahead of his British rival.
The episode left Hamilton incensed.
“Deliberately driving into another driver and getting away pretty much scot-free as he still came fourth, I think that’s a disgrace,” the Briton told Channel 4. “Imagine all the young kids that are watching Formula 1 today and see that kind of behavior from a four-time world champion. I think that says it all.”
“If he wants to prove that he’s a man, I think we should do it out of the car face to face,” he said. “Driving dangerously, which in any way can put another driver at risk... we were going slow, if we had been going fast it could’ve been a lot worse. It definitely sets a precedent within F1, and it also does for all the young kids that are watching us drive and conduct ourselves. They’ve seen today how a four-time champion behaves and I think, hopefully, that doesn’t ripple into the younger categories.”
Hamilton began the race in pole and established himself as race leader, but his progress was stymied when he was forced to pit due to a loose head rest. While Vettel’s sanction saw him drop from second to ninth, he recovered to extend his championship lead over Hamilton to 14 points.
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