- The German caused controversy by intentionally ramming Lewis in Azerbaijan
- The rivals appeared together in a tense press conference in Austria on Thursday
- Vettel apologised for driving into rival Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel has apologised for driving into Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, saying that he ‘regretted’ the move.
Moments after ramming the back of his rival’s Mercedes at a safety car restart, the German steered into Hamilton on lap 19 of the race in Baku.
Vettel initially blamed Hamilton for the collision, accusing the Briton of ‘brake-testing’ him.
Lewis Hamilton refused to be drawn into a war of words with Sebastian Vettel in Austria
But when the pair appeared together in a tense press conference ahead of this weekend’s race in Austria, the Ferrari driver admitted he got it wrong.
‘At the time I was surprised,’ said Vettel. ‘It felt like Lewis had stopped but that was wrong.
‘I drove alongside him and I overreacted. I never had the intention to hurt him or damage his car but looking back it was dangerous.
Vettel was handed a stop-and-go penalty for deliberately crashing into Hamilton in Azerbaijan
‘I’m not proud of the moment,’ he added. ‘Can I take it back? No. Do I regret it? Yes. What I did was wrong and I apologise.’
Hamilton revealed that Vettel phoned him the day after the race to discuss the incident, before texting him to apologise 24 hours later.
‘I accepted his apology,’ said Hamilton. ‘I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and will continue to race him hard for the rest of the season.’
Hamilton said he did not regret calling Vettel a ‘disgrace’ in the aftermath in Azerbaijan
Vettel was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty by stewards during the race.
Hamilton said that sanction was ‘not enough’ over his radio feed, claiming later that it sent out the wrong message to young drivers.
But Vettel avoided further punishment at an FIA hearing in Paris on Monday, prompting Hamilton to hit out at the sport’s governing body again yesterday.
The German escaped further punishment following an investigation by the FIA
‘With all due respect, Jean [Todt, FIA president] should be sitting here to answer some questions,’ said Hamilton.
‘They didn’t change anything on Monday so the message sent out remains the same.’
The battle for Formula One’s drivers title will recommence at Spielberg in Austria this weekend