Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have wasted no time blaming each other in the media for their controversial coming together under safety car conditions in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
As then race leader Hamilton led the pack through Turn 15 of the Baku City Circuit for a safety car restart of the race, Vettel was caught off guard by Hamilton’s slow pace and collided with him at low speed, causing minor damage to the Ferrari’s front wing.
Vettel, who immediately raised his hands in protest, then proceeded to bang his front right-hand wheel onto Hamilton’s front left-hand wheel – an action which eventually earned the Ferrari driver a race-ruining ten second stop-go penalty.
In terms of blame, Lewis Hamilton wasn’t critical of Vettel for the initial contact, admitting to media post-race, “that wasn’t the issue for me.”
Instead, the Briton absolutely slammed Vettel for the second contact, telling media after the race, “All the young kids in other series look up to us, as champions, to set an example and that is not the behavior you expect to see from a multiple champion.”
When Vettel was questioned about the controversial second contact with Hamilton after the race, he avoided the subject regularly.
One reporter, who was in Formula 1’s official reaction video, asks Vettel, “And then there was the moment when you hit him from the side, Lewis says it sets a dangerous precedent, not just for Formula 1 but also for kids coming through the sport?”
Vettel pauses for an extremely long time before saying, “Well I think, you know, Formula 1 is for grown ups,” before darting back to the original first contact, which he believes is undeniably Hamilton’s fault.
Earlier, Vettel had told media, “I don’t have a problem with Lewis but I just think that what he did on the track was not ok.”
“I don’t know why I got the penalty and Lewis didn’t,” he admitted.
But, Vettel may feel the need to subtract his media comments as the FIA did not penalize him for the initial contact, but instead deemed their 10 second stop/go penalty necessary when “car 5 drove alongside and then steered into car 44.”
Vettel’s dodging of questions on the second impact easily proves his reluctance to talk about the issue. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots; Vettel undeniably feels guilty.
In the confusion of the post-race media pen, it now appears Vettel mistakenly believes he was penalized for the initial impact with Hamilton.
Either way – neither driver has backed down and it is unclear when their relationship stands.