Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton came to blows in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on Sunday with the two drivers colliding in the race that was later won by Valteri Bottas. As Vettel rammed into Hamilton from behind and later protested, he was given a 10-second stop-go penalty when they were driving behind the safety car in the 19th lap of the race.
At that stage, Hamilton led the street race after making a clean start from the pole position and was slowed down by the safety car ahead of him and in attempts at avoiding crashing into the safety car, the British driver slowed down at the turn. This led to Vettel slamming into Hamilton – an action that hurt both drivers. It loosened the head-rest of Hamilton’s car so severely that he was ordered to pit on safety grounds for repairs — and caused Vettel to lose his front wing and his temper by pulling alongside Hamilton and then turning into him.
Vettel, who later accused Hamilton of brake-checking him, had served his penalty during the race after the stewards decided his actions added up to “dangerous driving”. Hamilton was not reprimanded or punished.
Hamilton alleged that the manoeuvre set a bad precedent for the sport and for all the young drivers taking up the sport. Later when questioned whether the accident was going to affect up and coming drivers, Vettel said, “I think it was very clear. In the end, we are racing with men. If one of us gets a penalty, we both do. We are both grown-up men. We want to race wheel to wheel.”
Later the stewards explained their decision-making process. It was described as “potentially dangerous” driving and in addition to the time penalty in the race he was also given three penalty points on his racing licence, taking him to a total of nine. If he reaches 10, he faces a possible further sanction.