Mercedes and Ferrari on Sunday traded insults and accusations after Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton to win the British Grand Prix.
The controversy centered on an incident in the opening lap when Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen collided with Hamilton’s Mercedes.
As a result, the Englishman, who had started from pole position, dropped to the back of the field.
The accident followed a first-lap collision at the French Grand Prix, when the other Ferrari, driven by Vettel, drove into the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
In France, Vettel was handed a five-second penalty and on Sunday Raikkonen took a 10-second penalty, but Mercedes felt those punishments were not sufficient.
Hamilton, his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and the team’s non-executive chairman Nikki Lauda all suggested that Ferrari’s crashes with their team’s cars might be more than just unlucky “racing incidents.”
Vettel, who increased his narrow lead in the driver standings, responded by dismissing the talk as “quite silly.”
Hamilton drove a heroic race to finish second, while Raikkonen went on to secure the final podium place.
After the race, the Mercedes driver struggled to hide his disappointment.
He avoided a post-race interview and his body language as he kept away from Raikkonen in the pre-podium room and during the champagne spraying told its own story.
When he was eventually interviewed on the podium after the two Ferrari men had departed, Hamilton took a swipe at his rivals.
“Interesting tactics, I would say, from their side, but we’ll do what we can to fight them,” he said.
Hamilton later expanded on his comments.
“It’s now two races one of the Ferraris has taken out one of the Mercedes,” he said. “There’s a lot of points there that Valtteri and I have lost.”
“We’ve just got to try to position ourselves better so we are not exposed to the red cars, because who knows whether that’s going to happen again,” he added. “We’ve got to work hard as a team to try to lock out the front row and make sure we’re fully ahead of these guys.”
Vettel now leads the title race with 171 points, eight ahead of Hamilton on 163, while Raikkonen is third on 116.
Vettel shrugged off the accusations.
“Why? Things can happen,” the German said. “It’s quite silly to think that anything that happened was deliberate. I, at least, would struggle to be that precise and take somebody out.”
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