Sebastian Vettel says relationship with Lewis Hamilton is damaged
"It's not the same because I messed up," Vettel says
By Jonathan Green
Last Updated: 18/07/17 12:18pm
Sebastian Vettel admits his relationship with Lewis Hamilton is "not the same" after their clash in Baku.
The German twice collided with his title rival behind the Safety Car in the Azerbaijan GP, the second time deliberately driving into the leading Mercedes as he gesticulated with Hamilton.
Their championship battle had been respectful up until that moment but Hamilton labelled Vettel's actions as "disgusting" and "disgraceful".
The Briton accepted the Ferrari driver's apology in the days following but Vettel admits their off-track friendship has been damaged.
"Actually it's not the same, because I messed up," Vettel told The Times when asked about their relationship.
"So I told [Hamilton] that I understand if he's not happy and not cool about it. But I hope time will fix things.
"We have our own lives, we're grown up, we're very different. His way, what he thinks are cool and what he prioritises in his life are very different to what I prioritise in my life.
"But that's fine. We get along. We got along and I hope we still do."
Vettel received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty during the Baku race but escaped further action following an FIA investigation after apologising and accepting full responsibility.
Hamilton made clear during and after the race that he was unhappy with the punishment handed down and indicated during Thursday's press conference with Vettel that the FIA should have done more.
"I don't think anything changes," he said. "My opinion stays the same.
"With all due respect, Jean [Todt, the FIA president] should be sitting here next to us to answer some questions because they didn't change anything on the Monday. So the message that was sent still remains the same."
In their 10 years racing in F1 together, Vettel and Hamilton have never directly battled for the championship before, and the German is relishing the fight.
"Lewis is one of the best drivers we have in the field," the four-time world champion said.
"So is Fernando [Alonso], who I have been challenging with for the world title when it was really, really close.
"I have obviously four championships, two very close ones, both with Fernando. Two were less, say, a little bit less stressful at the end of the year.
"Certainly it is great to know you're racing one of the great ones of your time."
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