Azerbaijan GP: Hamilton labels Vettel a 'disgrace'
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP):
As Daniel Ricciardo celebrated winning a hectic Azerbaijan Grand Prix yesterday, title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel clashed in a bitter incident that could shape the rest of an intriguing Formula One season.
Hamilton accused Vettel of "disrespectful" driving after the four-time champion pulled alongside Hamilton and appeared to deliberately swerve into him when they were behind the safety car approaching the midway point of a stop-start race.
"Ultimately, what happened today was disrespectful. It's not deserving of that reaction from someone you have respect for," Hamilton said. "A multi-world champion should behave better than that. It's what you expect in go-karts. That's not how you drive."
Vettel, who is chasing a fifth world title to stop Hamilton winning a fourth, was given a 10-second time penalty for the incident. Hamilton, less angry in his media briefing than immediately after the race on television, maintained Vettel shunted him on purpose.
"It couldn't be clearer. It's clear as blue skies," the British driver said. "Some people don't like to own up to their own mistakes."
After eight races of a see-saw season, Vettel's Ferrari leads second-placed Hamilton's Mercedes by 14 points 153 vs. 139. They have won three each and over the first seven races both had spoken at length of their huge admiration for each other.
But this is the first time they have been main rivals for the title, and the pressure is showing.
"Today wasn't fair play. Today was obviously a different Sebastian we're seeing," Hamilton said. "I like to think that I remain respectful and I'll continue to do so. I want to win the championship the right way."
Ricciardo secured his fifth career win, while Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas overtook 18-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll's Williams in the closing metres to take second place.
Vettel finished fourth, while Hamilton was fifth.
The safety car came out three times in quick succession before a red flag stopped the race on lap 22 of 51 because debris littered the track.
Shortly before that, the Hamilton-Vettel incident occurred.
While behind a safety car, Hamilton, who was in the lead, appeared to slow his car right in front of Vettel causing Vettel to drive into him. An irate Vettel then accelerated alongside Hamilton, gesticulated and moved his car to the right and into him.
Vettel thought Hamilton had slammed the brakes intentionally which is known as brake-testing which Hamilton denied.
"The stewards looked at my data," Hamilton said. "Clearly, I didn't."
Speaking on Britain's Channel 4 television just after the race, Hamilton went as far as to say that Vettel "disgraced himself", adding that "if he wants to prove he is a man, we should do it out of the car".
But Vettel maintained that Hamilton was just as much to blame.
"If I get a penalty, then we should both get a penalty," the German driver said. "He did something similar a couple of years ago in China at a restart. It's just not the way to do it."
1. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull - TAG 51 laps
2. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes - Mercedes +3.904s
3. Lance Stroll CAN Williams - Mercedes +4.009s
4. Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari - Ferrari +5.976s
5. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes - Mercedes +6.188s
6. Esteban Ocon FRA Force India-Mercedes +30.298s
7. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas-Ferrari +41.753s
8. Carlos Sainz ESP Toro Rosso-Renault +49.400s
9. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren-Honda +59.551s
10. Pascal Wehrlein GER Sauber - Ferrari +1m 26.573s
11. Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber - Ferrari +1m 29.550s
12. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren-Honda +1m 30.041s
13. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
Did not finish
Kimi Raikkonen FIN Ferrari - Ferrari 46 laps completed
Sergio Perez MEX Force India-Mercedes 40 laps completed
Felipe Massa BRA Williams - Mercedes 26 laps completed
Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault - Renault 25 laps completed
Max Verstappen NED Red Bull - TAG 12 laps completed
Daniil Kvyat RUS Toro Rosso-Renault 11 laps completed
Jolyon Palmer GBR Renault - Renault 10 laps completed
1 Sebastian Vettel GER FERRARI 153
2 Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 139
3 Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 111
4 Daniel Ricciardo AUS RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 92
5 Kimi Raikkonen FIN FERRARI 73
6 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 45
7 Sergio Perez MEX FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 44
8 Esteban Ocon FRA FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 35
9 Carlos Sainz ESP TORO ROSSO 29
10 Felipe Massa BRA WILLIAMS MERCEDES 20
11 Nico Hulkenberg GER RENAULT 18
12 Lance Stroll CAN WILLIAMS MERCEDES 17
13 Kevin Magnussen DEN HAAS FERRARI 11
14 Romain Grosjean FRA HAAS FERRARI 10
15 Pascal Wehrlein GER SAUBER FERRARI 5
16 Daniil Kvyat RUS TORO ROSSO 4
17 Fernando Alonso ESP MCLAREN HONDA 2
18 Jolyon Palmer GBR RENAULT 0
19 Marcus Ericsson SWE SAUBER FERRARI 0
20 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL MCLAREN HONDA 0
21 Antonio Giovinazzi ITA SAUBER FERRARI 0