Formula One: Duo's 'bromance' back in motion

From left: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, Haas' Kevin Magnussen and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel are all smiles at a drivers' press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.
From left: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, Haas' Kevin Magnussen and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel are all smiles at a drivers' press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Hamilton, Vettel make up before Austrian GP and stress they have respect for each other

SPIELBERG (Austria) • Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton said he still had "the utmost respect" for Formula One title rival Sebastian Vettel after accepting a public apology from the Ferrari driver yesterday.

Speaking at a crowded Austrian Grand Prix news conference, the two men addressed a "road rage" controversy that has dominated the headlines since the June 25 race in Azerbaijan.

"I will continue to race him hard through the rest of the season," added Hamilton, who said at the time that Vettel had "disgraced himself" by driving into him in Baku.

He said Vettel called him on the Monday after the race and then texted an apology, which he accepted.

The championship leader had driven into the back of Hamilton's Mercedes while both were following the safety car in first and second places, waiting for it to return to the pits.

Vettel then pulled alongside, gesticulating angrily, before banging wheels.

The German, a four-time world champion, later accused Hamilton of "brake-testing" him by slowing suddenly.

FIERY BATTLE

I will continue to race him hard through the rest of the season.

LEWIS HAMILTON, turning his attention to racing after accepting Sebastian Vettel's apology.

The car's telemetry subsequently showed that was not the case and Hamilton said the accusation was one he particularly wanted corrected.

Vettel was handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, and finished fourth.

 MUTUAL RESPECT

It's nice to hear that we are able to move forward. I think the respect we have for each other on and off track helps us in this regard.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL, on putting the incident between him and Hamilton behind.

He was then summoned to a hearing in Paris on Monday where the governing body declared the matter closed.

Initially reluctant to dwell on the matter, saying he did not want to "pump this up more than it is already", the Ferrari driver yesterday repeated the written apology.

"It was the wrong move to drive alongside him and hit his tyres," the German said.

"I don't think there was any bad intention (by Hamilton). I don't think he actually brake-tested me. I was upset and overreacted. I am not proud of the moment."

Vettel added that he had been caught out by the differing speed in the cars as they exited Turn 15 preparing for a restart after a safety car period.

"At the time I was surprised," he said. "It felt like Lewis hit the brakes and I couldn't stop hitting the car. But I don't think he actually brake-tested me. At the time I read it like that."

It is the second incident in seven months in which Vettel has lost his temper in the car - at last year's Mexican Grand Prix he swore at race director Charlie Whiting because he was angry Red Bull's Max Verstappen was not being penalised.

But Vettel denied he had an issue with anger.

"I don't think so," he said.

"I can see why you might believe it's not."

Hamilton, 14 points behind Vettel after eight races, missed out on victory in Baku after a headrest worked loose and he had to pit. He finished fifth.

Before Baku, the two world champions had made much of their mutual respect and the budding "bromance" seemed to be back on.

"It's nice to hear that we are able to move forward," Vettel said.

"I think the respect we have for each other on and off track helps us in this regard."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'Duo's 'bromance' back in motion'. Print Edition | Subscribe