Lewis Hamilton told Sebastian Vettel they would have “problems” if the Ferrari driver ever repeated his controversial car chop from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the world champion has revealed.
Baku’s chaotic and thrilling street race saw the major flashpoint of Hamilton and Vettel’s title fight, when the latter pulled up alongside Hamilton as he slowed the pack ahead of a Safety Car restart. Apparently incensed by how slow the Mercedes driver was going — he had driven into the back of Hamilton’s car at the previous corner — Vettel raised a hand, before driving into the side of the silver car in protest.
The incident earned Vettel a stop-go penalty during the race but he escaped further punishment after showing contrition for his actions. At the time Hamilton told the media Vettel had “disgraced” himself but the Englishman, who eventually prevailed in their battle to win the 2017 title, also sought out his title rival to speak about the incident.
“When I spoke to him later, I was like ‘that’s a sign of disrespect, so don’t ever disrespect me like that again otherwise then we will have problems’,” Hamilton told Motorsport.tv’s The Flying Lap.
“I’ve never done that to someone. I don’t even know what he was thinking to have done… I’ve never been in a position like that. I guess people react differently under certain pressures.”
Other than several critical statements to the media immediately afterwards, Hamilton’s response to Baku was muted. At the next race in Austria, while the media looked for a reaction to the FIA’s decision not to punish the Ferrari driver further, the Brit said he hoped kids did not follow Vettel’s example but added that he had moved on from the incident.
As Hamilton now explains, he was conscious of the Baku episode creating a negative spiral of news stories.
“I think there’s different ways in which you can handle things. I knew what I was there to do and I wasn’t going to let anything distract me from doing that.
“I wasn’t going to let myself say something or react in a way that’s going to cause some negative swirl which is going to steer me off course from my ultimate goal. And naturally, with the experience you learn to just compartmentalise all those different things.”