Thursday 24 August 2017

'There wasn't actually an apology' - Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in contact since infamous clash

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

Mark Mann-Bryans

Lewis Hamilton refused to be drawn into a war of words with title rival Sebastian Vettel despite their clash at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Vettel was accused of deliberately driving into the side of Hamilton's Mercedes at the race in Baku as they followed the safety car.

The German ran into the back of Hamilton and pulled his Ferrari alongside the race leader before driving into the side of the Mercedes. Vettel was hit with a 10-second stop-go penalty but still finished ahead of Hamilton to open his title lead over the Briton to 14 points.

The FIA, motorsport's governing body, decided against further sanctions for Vettel.

Asked ahead of Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix 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."

Hamilton confirmed he had spoken to Vettel the day after the memorable race but had not received an actual apology over the incident.

He added: "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."

Hamilton revealed he asked his rival to make it clear he had not slammed on his brakes, with resulting telemetry backing up Hamilton's statement.

"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," he said.

"I had no intentions, there was no need for me to do anything like that, I was in the lead."

After the race, Hamilton labelled Vettel a "disgrace" and he stuck by that remark when asked if he regretted saying it in the heat of the moment.

"I don't think I was particularly upset after the race," he said. "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.

"It is different than if it had happened on a football pitch and you were face to face but we are strapped in these cars so there was nothing I could do at the time.

"I don't think there is much tension there (between him and Vettel)."

Vettel was in an apologetic mood and once again admitted he reacted in a poor way to the actions of Hamilton.

He said: "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."

The four-time drivers' champion was pleased Hamilton wanted to move on.

"I'm happy to hear that it doesn't have a big impact," he said. "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."

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