British Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton & Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff have insinuated that there may be more than meets the eye to Ferrari’s race tactics when racing a Mercedes car, following his clash with Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday.
Hamilton, starting from pole position for his home race at Silverstone, didn’t make a good start as he bogged down off the line. This allowed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to swoop into the lead as well as the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Coming under attack from Kimi Raikkonen into Turn 3, Hamilton left room on the inside apex for the Ferrari. However, a lock-up from Raikkonen meant the pair made light contact and this spun Hamilton around and right to the back of the grid. Raikkonen was able to continue in P5, and was given a ten second time penalty to be added to his race time.
Both drivers recovered through the race, eventually finishing on the podium together. With Sebastian Vettel storming to victory by passing Valtteri Bottas with five laps to go, Hamilton was left to fend Raikkonen off for P2. Asked on the podium about the Turn 1 incident, Hamilton made it clear he wasn’t happy with the collision as he commented on what he called their “interesting tactics”:
“All I’d say is that it’s now two races that the Ferraris have taken out one of the Mercedes [Vettel collided with Bottas at Turn 1], and a five-second penalty and a ten-second penalty doesn’t appear to feel… ultimately it spoils the race. It’s a lot of points that ultimately Valtteri and I have lost in those two scenarios. And, of course, it is a race situation. I couldn’t see behind me but we’ve just to work hard to try to position ourselves better so that we are not exposed to the red cars – because who knows when that’s going to happen again. We’ve got to make sure that we work hard together as a team to try to lock-out the front row and make sure that we’re fully ahead of these guys.”
Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s team boss at Mercedes, also passed comment in an interview with Sky, saying that the team have to make judgement on how they feel the Ferraris are treating them on track:
“A racing incident. Unfortunate because [at] Le Castellet first time we got taken out and now it is the second time we got taken out.
“It is a lot of constructor points. In James Allison’s words, ‘do you think it is deliberate or incompetence?’. So this leaves us with a judgement.”
The Ferrari drivers were asked in the post-race press conference about their opinions on the clashes, with Vettel immediately seeking to shut down any talk regarding deliberation: “Well, things can happen but I think it’s quite silly to think that anything that happened was deliberate, at least, I would struggle to be that precise, you know, to take somebody out. In France, I lost my wing so I screwed my race. I think it’s easy to obviously attack and have a great move and also easy to have an incident. I don’t think… I mean, I only saw it briefly on the monitor, I don’t think there was any intention and I find it a bit unnecessary to even go there.”
Kimi Raikkonen, who held his hand up to say ‘My bad’ about the collision said this about the penalty: “It was my mistake, so that’s fine. I deserve it and took the 10 seconds and kept fighting. That’s how it goes.”
Asked about Hamilton’s comments, he said: “Things happen sometimes. Funnily enough you start blaming us that we did it purposefully but he locked a wheel and unfortunately we touched and both paid the price for it and that’s how it goes sometimes. It’s easy to say after the couple of races that we’re suddenly doing something against them but we’ve been hit very many times ourselves so that’s how it goes unfortunately.”
Have your say. What are your thoughts regarding the Hamilton/Raikkonen collision?