During last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel rammed title rival Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver slowed his car while exiting Turn 15.
After analyzing what had happened, F1 stewards found no evidence that Hamilton brake-checked Vettel, which is what the Ferrari driver thought.
In fact, the FIA investigation showed that Hamilton behaved exactly the same during that particular Safety Car restart, as he had in the incident-free one before. Due to his actions, Vettel was awarded a 10-second stop/go penalty for “potentially dangerous” driving.
If you look at this chain of events from Sebastian Vettel’s perspective, thinking that the driver in front brake tested you (which in his case, resulted in a collision, damaging the Ferrari’s front wing) would surely not sit right.
However, evidence showed that Hamilton wasn’t looking to get hit from behind by his rival, and so Vettel’s response certainly lacked sportsmanship, unless he actually didn’t meant to do it. It also reminds us of the 1990 blockbuster ‘Days of Thunder’ where Tom Cruise’s character Cole Trickle goes back out on the oval only to ram his car into his rival, Russ Wheeler, after he was forced off the track.
“The leader dictates the pace, but we were exiting the corner, he was accelerating and then he braked so much that I couldn’t stop in time and ran into the back of him,” said Vettel. “I think that was just not necessary. I don’t think it was deliberate of him to brake-check me, I don’t think he’s that kind of guy. But obviously that’s what it turned out to be, that’s what it is, and I wasn’t happy with that,” argued the German driver, who insists that he only drove alongside Hamilton to raise his hand at him and nothing more and that the cars simply inadvertently touched.
“I didn’t brake check him,” said Hamilton. “I control the pace, so like all other re-starts I slowed down at the same spot. He was obviously sleeping and drove into the back of me.”
“But that wasn’t the issue for me. Driving alongside and driving deliberately into a driver and getting away scot-free, pretty much – he still came away with fourth – I think it’s a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself today, to be honest.”
The Mercedes driver then added: “Imagine all the young kids that are watching Formula One today and seeing that kind of behavior from a four-time world champion. I think that says it all.”