Mercedes ignites war of words with Ferrari over British GP incident
Their fierce rivalry on the track spilled over into a war of words in the paddock as Lewis Hamilton railed against what he called “interesting tactics” after a Ferrari collided with a Mercedes for the second time in three races at Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s Mercedes suffered a hit from the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen on turn three of the opening lap at Silverstone, forcing him to the back of the pack from where he had to fight through the field to finish second behind Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari.
Vettel’s win means he now leads Hamilton by eight points in the drivers’ championship, while Ferrari leads Mercedes by 20 points in the constructors’ standings.
At the French Grand Prix, Vettel ran into Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas at the start of the race, an incident which forced him to retire.
An angry Hamilton said immediately after the Silverstone race: “Interesting tactics I would say from this side but we’ll do what we can to fight them.”
His team boss Toto Wolff went further, borrowing from a conversation with technical chief James Allison, who had asked whether he thought it was “deliberate or incompetence.”
But Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene offered a scathing assessment of the Mercedes reaction.
“Who is incompetent? Kimi? Who is he [Allison] to judge what the drivers are doing in the car?” the Scuderia boss told Sky Italia.
“If he really said something like that, he should be ashamed.
“Allison worked at Maranello for many years, but now we are here in England teaching him to be a gentleman.”
“I accept it from [TV pundit] Jacques Villeneuve because he was a driver. But this guy?”
Finland’s Raikkonen, who was handed a 10-second penalty before finishing third, admitted he had made a mistake, while Vettel said it is “quite silly” to think there was anything deliberate.
“At least I would struggle to be that precise in order to take someone out. In France I lost my wing so I screwed my own race,” he said.
Wolff appeared to downplay his remarks later on F1’s live Twitter show, acknowledging “none of these things are done deliberately” but adding it is “tiresome” when these incidents keep happening.
“These things shouldn’t be happening with top drivers at the front of the grid,” he wrote.
“If our two drivers make a mistake twice and take the same team out, I would be apologizing.”
The Mercedes team later wrote on Facebook: “Nobody is seriously suggesting it was deliberate. Kimi made a mistake. Admitted it and apologized to Lewis.”