Lauda backs Hamilton over Vettel incident in Baku
Mercedes chief stands by driver
Sebastian Vettel’s reputation has been tarnished after he deliberately swerved into Lewis Hamilton during Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Niki Lauda, the non-executive chairman of Mercedes-GP has claimed. Four-time champion Vettel was punished by the stewards for his moment of madness during a chaotic race in Baku. Daniel Ricciardo claimed both his and Red Bull Racing’s first victory of the season, but the spotlight was firmly on Vettel last night after he banged wheels with his title rival.
Vettel adjudged Hamilton to have brake-tested him during the second of three safety car periods in a frenetic race on the streets of Azerbaijan’s capital city. After he rammed Hamilton from behind at Turn 16, the German then pulled alongside his British rival before gesticulating with both hands and slamming into Hamilton’s car.
Vettel, who finished fourth and extended his lead over Hamilton in the championship race after the latter was forced into an unscheduled pit stop following a problem with his headrest, protested his innocence.
But the stewards took Hamilton’s side, hitting Vettel with a
Niki Lauda Mercedes-GP non-executive chairman
stop-and-go penalty and latterly three points on his licence. Three-time world champion Lauda was asked whether Vettel’s reputation had been tainted following the dramatic incident on Lap 19.
“Sure,” he said. “He freaked out in himself.
“When you hit somebody – it is your fault. No question. But then to drive next to him and hit him on purpose, I have never seen anything like this.
“To do that I don’t understand. Vettel is a decent guy normally. This I don’t understand. He is crazy. Lewis will hit him one day. Not with the car but with his fist.” Indeed Hamilton, now 14 points adrift of his championship rival after he crossed the line only fifth, was furious with Vettel’s actions branding the German a “disgrace”, while also suggesting he take on his rival “out of the car, face-to-face”.
To drive next to him and hit him on purpose, I have never seen anything like this
Lewis Hamilton, now 14 points adrift of Sebastian Vettel, called his rival a ‘disgrace’.