Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

Lewis Hamilton questions FIA decision to not punish Sebastian Vettel

Rivals move on following Baku collision, but Mercedes driver says wrong message sent out by motorsport body by not censuring Ferrari's four-time world champion.

Lewis Hamilton says the collision with Sebastian Vettel is 'water under the bridge' but adds there are unanswered questions. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton says the collision with Sebastian Vettel is 'water under the bridge' but adds there are unanswered questions. Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton has questioned the decision not to hit Sebastian Vettel with further punishment after the Ferrari driver drove into him at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The German ran into the back of Hamilton and pulled his car alongside the race leader before driving into the side of the Briton's Mercedes.

Vettel was hit with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, having claimed he was brake-tested my Hamilton - telemetry showed otherwise - but still finished ahead of his title rival to open his lead to 14 points.

He then attended a meeting in Paris where the FIA, motorsport's governing body, opted against dishing out any more reprimands for the incident.

The pair were reunited in the drivers' press conference ahead of Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, where both attempted to steer away from any further conversation relating to the flashpoint.

Hamilton, who has worked has an FIA road safety ambassador, labelled Vettel a "disgrace" after the race in Baku and said the move would send the wrong message to children.

When asked if his opinion had changed in the past two weeks, Hamilton said it should be the FIA answering any questions over its dealing with Vettel.

"I don't think anything changes, so my opinion stays the same," he said. "With all due respect, Jean [Todt, FIA president] should be here to answer some questions. They [the FIA] didn't change anything on Monday so the message sent remains the same.

"Rivalry is good for any sport, I don't disagree with that. But we are used as a platform, and we are supposed to be role models and we are supposed to give a certain message.

"We are human and don't always get it right but collectively, as a sport, we are supposed to inspire and send the right message. We are in a position of power and how we utilise that is important.

"I don't think I was particularly upset after the race, I don't think I said anything I would particularly take back. It is water under the bridge now. There is no point saying much more."

Asked whether the incident was in the past, Hamilton said: ''It is for me. I'm focused on this weekend. It is an interesting press conference with all these people here. I said everything I felt I needed to say at the last race and just left it there.

''Sebastian and I, we spoke after the race on the Monday and then shortly after that he messaged me so, for me, I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and will continue to race him hard for the rest of the season like we always have.

"The conversation we had, there wasn't actually an apology even if that was the intent - we were just texting.

"My only point to Sebastian, he said I brake-tested him, I asked if he could address that publicly because the data showed that wasn't the case. I had no intentions. There was no need for me to do anything like that - I was in the lead."

Vettel, who offered his "sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motor sport family" after Monday's meeting, was still in a remorseful mood on Thursday and insisted he never intended to harm his rival.

"We are mature enough to move on," he said. "If I could literally go back and take it away I would do that but I can't. I said I never had the intention to hurt him, like punch him or anything. It wasn't to hurt him or damage his car - it was at low speed, but looking back it was dangerous.

"I think you have seen it many times. I have seen it. I made the statement. I had the chance to quickly talk to Lewis after the race but I don't want to pump it up more than it is already.

''It was the wrong move to drive alongside him and hit his tyre. That is, I guess, what you all want to hear about but there is nothing more to say.

''Am I proud of the moment? No. Can I take it back? No. Do I regret it? Yes.

"Obviously what I did was wrong and I apologise. It is up to Lewis. I made the mistake but it is nice to see that we are able to move forward and the respect we have for each other helps us.''

Updated: July 6, 2017 07:17 PM



Editor's Picks