Toto Wolff: Gloves now off in Lewis Hamilton-Sebastian Vettel rivalry
And the 'bromance' is over after Baku controversy...
By Pete Gill in Baku
Last Updated: 25/06/17 7:38pm
Toto Wolff says the "gloves are off" in the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton after the title rivals twice collided during the Azerbaijan GP.
Vettel was penalised after the stewards ruled that the Ferrari driver had 'swerved' into Hamilton's Mercedes behind the Safety Car.
The incident provoked a furious response from Hamilton with the Mercedes driver describing his rival's conduct as "dangerous", "disgusting" and "disgraceful".
At the very least, the controversy marks the end of the 'bromance' which had characterised this season's title fight between Hamilton and Vettel until now.
"Nobody wanted to see the schmoozing anyway, so now the gloves are off," said Wolff. "The sport needs the rivalry. What we have seen today is the ingredient of a great championship.
"They are warriors. They are at war at that moment. They are fighting for the race wins and the championship.
"At a certain stage, the best ones that compete for the world championship in that phase of their careers can't be friends. Maybe we've seen the limit of that respect today."
On the incident in which Vettel veered right into Hamilton's Mercedes after driving alongside the race leader, Wolff added: "Sebastian will know that didn't look great."
But the Silver Arrows chief said he was reserving judgement on whether Vettel's veer into Hamilton's W08 was deliberate.
"I can't almost imagine he would shunt him on purpose. I would like to speak to him personally rather than making a judgement.
"If a driver does that on purpose and in anger then you have to think about the size of the penalty. He is a four-time world champion and we are is setting examples in Formula 1 about what is allowed and what is not."
Wolff described the damage done to Hamilton's diffuser when Vettel first hit the Mercedes as "extensive" but was adamant Hamilton hadn't brake-tested the Ferrari.
"Lewis didn't do anything wrong, we have seen that on the data. He is absolutely fine."
Don't miss the F1 Report: Azerbaijan GP Review on Sky Sports F1 at 8.30pm on Wednesday for the final word on the weekend's action.
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