Lewis Hamilton has criticized Sebastian Vettel’s handling of a Safety Car restart in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as well as at the opening race in Australia.
Vettel was leading the race after the opening lap when the Safety Car was deployed due to Esteban Ocon having collided with Kimi Raikkonen. On the race restart, Vettel left it very late to accelerate toward the finish line, with the intention of minimizing the gains Hamilton would get from the tow on the long run to Turn 1.
“You are not allowed to start and stop, start and stop,” Hamilton said. “You’re not allowed to fake the guy behind. If there was not that rule, that’s what you’d do because eventually you’d catch them sleeping.”
Hamilton added that such an approach is not unusual for Vettel, complaining a similar incident behind the Safety Car in the opening race has left him wanting to discuss the issue with race director Charlie Whiting.
“In Australia he accelerated and braked and I nearly went into the back of him and [in Baku] he did it four times. I need to speak to Charlie, because I don’t understand.
“I understand [Whiting] passed it to the stewards but they didn’t do anything. They supposedly said everyone was doing it. But we’re the leaders and it cascades down – what the first car does everyone does the same thing.
“That now sets a precedent, and it means everyone who is leading under a safety car can start-stop, start-stop. I need to get it rectified when I have the briefing next because clearly they don’t care about it. And if that’s the case we will see more of it. I will expect it from him next time and I will try to prepare.”
Hamilton and Vettel collided behind the Safety Car a year ago in Baku, with the Ferrari driver running into the rear of the Mercedes before making further contact when Vettel pulled alongside to gesticulate.