Formula One: Vettel, Hamilton move on from Baku clash

Hamilton (left), Kevin Magnussen (centre) and Vettel (right) at a joint press conference, July 6, 2017.
Hamilton (left), Kevin Magnussen (centre) and Vettel (right) at a joint press conference, July 6, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

SPIELBERG, Austria (AFP) - A calm Sebastian Vettel on Thursday (July 6) accepted that Lewis Hamilton did not 'brake-test' him at last month's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but refused to admit he has a problem controlling his temper.

Appearing with Hamilton at a tense news conference ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, the 30-year-old conceded he had made the wrong decision when, in a fit of 'road rage', he drove his Ferrari into Hamilton's Mercedes car.

"I don't think he, actually, brake-tested me," said Vettel.

Both drivers tried to play down the need to re-examine the incident and made clear they wanted to put it behind them and move on.

"I don't think it's necessary (to re-visit the incident)," said Vettel. "I had a chance to speak quickly to Lewis after the race, but I don't want to pump it up any more.

"It felt like Lewis hit the brakes, but I don't think he actually brake-tested me."

Hamilton said he had spoken to Vettel the day after the race and that the German had sent him a text message that contained an apology.

"I thought I had been 'fouled' and I overreacted," Vettel explained.

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

"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."

Hamilton said he had wanted to ensure that Vettel withdrew his claims that he had been brake-tested.

"My only point to Sebastian was that I felt that saying I had brake-tested him, I was like 'I hope you can correct that because people who people who were watching felt that was something I did'," said Hamilton.

"The data obviously showed that was not the case. In actual fact, he accelerated. I think the goal was to be as close as possible to me, but that was an error in judgment.

"My only point in the reply to him was that I hope he makes that clear because I had no intentions. There was no need for me to do something like that as I was in the lead."

He added that he had put the issue behind him.

"I accept his apology and we'll move forward," added Hamilton, who is 14 points behind championship leader Vettel as they go into the ninth race of the season.

"For me, I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and I will continue to race him hard."

Vettel said he was relieved and happy that Hamilton had accepted his apology.

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

"Obviously, what l did was wrong and l apologised. Obviously, I did a mistake so I can understand if he is upset.

"But it's nice to hear we can move forward. The respect we have on and off the track helps us in this regard."

Hamilton added that he had no regrets about the comments he made in the aftermath of the Baku clash when he described Vettel as a 'disgrace'.

"I don't think I said anything that I wish I would particularly want to take back.

"I'm still of the same opinion about what happened, but it's water under the bridge now and there's not too much need to say much more."

Asked if he felt he had a problem keeping his temperament under control, Vettel added: "No. I don't think I've got a temperament problem, but I can see why you ask."