Hamilton “Didn’t Brake-Test Vettel” In Safety Car Period Collision

Credit: Steve Etherington / AMG Petronas Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton came out all guns blazing post-race in defence of his driving under safety car conditions, following a collision with championship leader Sebastian Vettel at low speed during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Hamilton faced a recovery drive to fifth position after an unscheduled stop for an incorrectly fastened headrest, which left him stuck behind Vettel despite the German’s stop-go penalty for colliding with him during the second safety car period.

Vettel had rear-ended the Mercedes driver at Turn 15, which led to the Ferrari driver seeing red. Pulling alongside, Vettel showed his displeasure by gesticulating wildly and then turning into the path of the Mercedes, leading to a 10 second stop-go penalty being leveid by the stewards.

Hamilton denied he had intentionally caused Vettel to run into the back of him, and that has speed and line were consistent with his other safety car restarts during the race.

“I definitely didn’t brake-test Sebastian,” he stated plainly. “I controlled the pace under the Safety Car and, just like with the other restarts, I slowed down in the same place on the entry to T15. At that point, it is up to me to control the pace and then I felt a bump from behind.

“But that wasn’t the issue for me – everybody saw clearly what happened after,” he continued, referring to Vettel hitting him again after pulling alongside. “All the young kids in other series look up to us, as champions, to set an example and that is not the behaviour you expect to see from a multiple champion.

“We know that when times get tough, true colours show, and we have managed to apply some good pressure in the last weeks.”

Fifth was a disappointing return from what had been a dominant showing in qualifying, beating his team-mate Valtteri Bottas by almost half a second on Saturday, and putting over a second on the Ferrari pair of Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen. Bottas managed to finish on the second step of the podium despite a puncture and broken front wing on the opening lap – sending him a lap down at the time – which put Hamilton’s own headrest misfortunes into perspective.

“It’s difficult to swallow a result like this after a strong weekend. I drove my heart out today right to the line – I gave it everything.

“I know the team will be devastated about the issue with the headrest, but what we have to take away from this weekend is the great performance we have shown. We all feel that pain, but it’s on me to gather my thoughts and try and lead the team through this adversity.

“We’ll pull together and move forwards. I’m proud of my performance and I hope we can take the speed we’ve shown this weekend forward.”

Hamilton finished his remarks with a parting shot at his title rival, suggesting he was more interested in resolving their quarrelling on the track than arguing about it off-track.

“Personally, I want to do my talking on the track and win this championship in the right way. More than ever after this weekend, I believe we can.”

  • D.Duck

    Lewi Shamilton did not brake test Vettell as the FIA data says, but it looked like he didnt get on the throttle fast enough out of the corner which is just as bad!!! It like lying by omission , because 1 moment he is saying the Safety Car is not going fast enough to keep heat in the tyres, yet he didnt take the opportunity at that moment to speed up immediately and keep the heat in the tyres that he was complaining he was losing from them!!! 6 of 1, and half a dozen of the other! How Vettell wasnt disqualified for ramming Shammy I have no idea….but the 2 golden boyz of Shekelstone and Toad both need to stfu.!!! Im still laughing at the pair of them, I thought it was fkn hilarious! Lets have more of the same from the 2 a-holes for the rest of the year and hope Kimi sneaks up and nicks the title by 1 point just like 2007!!! #:)

  • LH#44

    Hamilton didn’t accelerate because he had to open the gap btw the SC and himself, he isn’t at fault at all. Vettel is the one to blame and he must be disqualified for that disgusting move.

  • D.Duck

    I think Shamilton had already backed the field up behind the SC and didnt need to slow down any more than he already had. He was also reminded at one point not to leave more than 10 car lengths behind the SC, but I will go and rewatch the incident again and see if he was too close to the SC or not. My point was that NOT getting on the throttle quickly enough when the driver behind expects you to is another sly trick we have seen over and over again through the years!

  • Alasdair Lindsay

    Let’s break this down point by point, referring to the 2017 FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.

    “When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car the message “SAFETY
    CAR IN THIS LAP” will be sent to all teams via the official messaging system and the car’s
    orange lights will be extinguished. This will be the signal to the teams and drivers that it will be
    entering the pit lane at the end of that lap.

    At this point the first car in line behind the safety car may dictate the pace and, if necessary,
    fall more than ten car lengths behind it.”

    When the accident occurred, the SC’s lights had been switched off for several seconds previously, giving Hamilton the right to drop as far back from the safety car as he wished.

    This precludes any argument that Hamilton did not respect any requirements regarding his positioning relative to the safety car, which only leaves the ‘reckless driving’ argument on the table.

    “In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the
    point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which
    involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other manoeuvre which is likely to
    endanger other drivers or impede the restart.”

    The telemetry data confirms (via the FIA) that Hamilton drove in a consistent manner in both his acceleration, braking and steering, however Vettel did infringe this paragraph with his manoeuvre against Hamilton moments after the initial contact. It is worth stressing that there is no requirement that drivers adhere to defined pattern of driving proportional to acceleration & braking inputs for a racing lap, merely that any driving must not be deliberately erratic in nature. Hamilton met this requirement.

  • Pedro R

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    Eggsacktly Duck, good comments.