A fantastic wheel-to-wheel duel turned sour when Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton said things against Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen after the 2018 Formula 1 British Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari left a huge mark by beating Hamilton and Mercedes on their home ground as the German extended his points lead over his rival at the end of a hard-fought triple header.
A slow start from Hamilton put him in danger as he was hit by Raikkonen from behind into Turn 3 when the Finn locked-up and had a small twitch, enough for his front left to make contact with Hamilton’s right rear.
It spun Hamilton off the road as he joined at the back of the grid. He then made a sound comeback to finish second with Raikkonen third, however, his title rival Vettel took the victory which seemingly didn’t go down well at that moment.
This led Hamilton to uncharacteristically state: “Interesting tactics, I would say, from their side but we will do what we can to fight them and improve in the next races.” – on the podium looking over at the Ferrari drivers.
When asked in the press conference, he added more context to it: “All I’d say is that it’s now two races that the Ferraris have taken out one of the Mercedes, 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.” Hamilton was referring to the French GP incident when Vettel took out Valtteri Bottas on Lap 1.
The allegation was fueled all the more by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff who quoted James Allison when speaking to Sky Sports F1. “A racing incident. Unfortunate because 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 [technical director] James Allison’s words, ‘do you think it is deliberate or incompetence?’. So this leaves us with a judgement.” This sparked quite the debate on social media with fans going against each other.
When asked both the Ferrari drivers, they were surprised with the allegations and sternly disregarded any wrongdoing by them in both the cases. “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,” said Vettel.
“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.”
Raikkonen added: “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.” In fact, Raikkonen had already taken the blame for the incident in the post-race interview.
The Finn didn’t bush around to blame the car or the situation but admitted that he made the mistake and paid the price for it. Ferrari’s team boss Maurizio Arrivabene was equally surprised and annoyed by Mercedes’ reactions.
Talking to Italian TV, Arrivabene questioned Allison’s thought process, adding that out of all people Allison should know how Ferrari operates having worked in Maranello for years before moving to Mercedes. He disregarded Allison’s allegations straight up.
He also recalled the coming together between Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in China where nothing was said if it was done deliberately. He added that anyone can check the telemetry and see how much Hamilton lost and Raikkonen gained.
With all said and done, Hamilton took to social media to clarify his stance and cleared the air with Raikkonen. He said: “Kimi said sorry and I accept it and we move on. It was a racing incident and nothing more.
“Sometimes we say dumb shit and we learn from it.” He added: “Thank you for loving me, for being with me with all my flaws. I know I’m not perfect. Accepting who you are and loving yourself are so important.
“Go be great today and be you and give zero f**ks to what anybody thinks.” Following the race, Hamilton didn’t look at ease after the gritty fight and only spoke on the podium while the Ferrari drivers completed the usual interviews in parc ferme.
Following his earlier posts, Hamilton has come out again to talk on the matter, he stated: “I’m so disappointed in myself after yesterday’s race when I left you all with the perception of a sore loser as I honestly don’t feel I am.
“And worst most of all, allowed you many the opportunity to shit on me, lay false claims to my name of which my family and I have worked so hard for. But you know what, it’s OK. I can accept that I deserve it mostly and will try to better and be better.”
We appreciate @LewisHamilton’s comments today following #Kimi7’s apologies after the #BritishGP, notably when Lewis described the episode at the start as a ‘racing incident’. pic.twitter.com/b1rEKCnrWY
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) July 9, 2018