Yesterday’s manic Azerbaijan Grand Prix seen a top three no one expected, multiple safety cars and incidents. However the one they are all talking about is the clash between championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
The rivals clashed behind the safety car as they awaited the re start, with Vettel colliding with the rear of Hamilton’s Mercedes before pulling alongside the Brit and then turning into his rivals car, causing a collision.
The incident caused the Ferrari front wing damage that required a pit stop with the German claiming that the Mercedes driver brake tested him and thus caused the collision. The stewards reviewed the footage and data from the previous safety car restart and deemed Hamilton to be in no wrong, his approach consistent with the previous re starts. The German driver was then given a 10 second stop and go penalty, something the four time champion thought was ‘harsh’.
The incident ignites the ongoing title battle into a possible war between the two champion drivers. Hamilton was very vocal during the race on the radio saying ‘that’s worth more than a ten second penalty, you know that Charlie (Whiting, race director).’
Despite the stunning win for Daniel Ricciardo, last moment pass for second for Valterri Bottas after being a lap down and a debut podium for rookie Lance Stroll the media still centered around the storm created by the title rivals.
Mercedes non-executive chariman Niki Lauda, never one to shy away in his words, said that it wouldn’t surprise him if Hamilton wanted to punch him.
“Lewis will hit him one day. Not with the car but with the fist. If I was Lewis, I would speak to Sebastian and ask him what is wrong.
“Sebastian said he didn’t do anything wrong. This is his normal reaction. He is still somewhere else in his brain. After three days hopefully he realises.
“When you hit somebody up the a*** it is your fault. No question. But to drive next to him and hit him on purpose, I have never seen anything like this.
“To do that I don’t understand. Vettel is a decent guy, normally. This I don’t understand. He is crazy.”
Hamilton himself branded the actions of Vettel as ‘dangerous’ and ‘disgusting’ when he spoke to the media post race.
“If he wants to prove that he’s a man then I think that we should do it out of the car, face to face,”
“I don’t fancy seeing him. It might turn into something else.”
Vettel himself seemed almost oblivious to the incident afterwards, with no mention to the wheel to wheel contact and only discussing the initial contact and pulling along side.
“He brake-checked me as well, so what do you expect? I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose but for sure it was not the right move. If I’m struggling, people at the back struggling even more, so I don’t think it was necessary.
“I got damage, he risked damage. He’s done something similar in China at the restart a couple of years ago so it’s not the way to do it, I think.
“After the incident, we were side by side, I raised my hand and showed him that I wasn’t happy with that.”
Vettel was also quoted as saying he would contact Hamilton privately about the incident but that remains to be seen. The end result seen Vettel get three points on his licence along with the stop and go but still finish ahead of Hamilton in fourth after the Mercedes had to pit to replace a loose head rest.
Considering that the rivalry between the two champions this season up to now has been civil with both showering praise upon the other it would remain to be seen if this will continue. The main consensus in the paddock is that Vettel should apologise as many feel his actions put the sport in disrepute.
The blue touch paper has now been well and truly lit between the two and despite the actions and possible disrepute to the sport it has created a lot of buzz around the sport with many eyes on the race in its aftermath yesterday. Despite the possible repercussions it is entirely possible that it could be a case of ‘any news is good news’ for the sport as a whole.
@Andy81287 on twitter
Photo Credit: Express.co.uk