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Vettel on Baku F1 incident with Hamilton: 'If I could go back in time, I would'

Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he 'overreacted' during the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in a tense press conference before the race at the R...

Vettel on Baku F1 incident with Hamilton: 'If I could go back in time, I would'

Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he 'overreacted' during the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in a tense press conference before the race at the Red Bull Ring this weekend. The championship leader swerved his Ferrari frustratedly into Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes behind the Safety Car at Baku, as Vettel deemed Hamilton to have 'brake tested' him and to have caused the collision.

Vettel finished ahead of Hamilton in Azerbaijan even with a 10-second penalty, and has a 14-point lead over the Briton going into Austria. After a meeting with the FIA on Monday, Vettel was cleared of any further punishment as he had already been given three penalty points on his FIA Superlicence with the aforementioned 10-second race penalty.

In Thurday's press conference before the Austrian GP, Vettel said, "We are mature enough to move on and obviously what I did was wrong and I made a mistake.

"I apologised [to Hamilton] but it doesn't take it away, it's still there.

"If I could take it back - literally take it back and go back in time - then I would."

When asked to explain his actions during the race at Baku, he said, "I don't think that's necessary is it? I think we've seen it many times, I've seen it, I've looked at it. Obviously I had a very different view inside the car than I did with a little bit of a gap outside the car.

"Obviously I was surprised. I had the impression [that I was brake tested] at the time, which I said and corrected, was wrong; that I got let's say, 'fouled'.

"And I drove alongside him and obviously wasn't happy about it; I overreacted. I don't think we need to explain further. You all saw what happened."

Moving on?

The pair had conversations on the phone which the Mercedes driver described as "respectful" on the Monday and Tuesday after the race, during which Vettel apologised to Hamilton for his actions.

When asked about that conversation, Hamilton replied: "There's two things that remain important for me.

"Firstly, that Sebastian acknowledged that I didn't brake test him. Whilst he had apologised, people should understand that.

"People were commenting and sending messages to me saying that I was out of order, and obviously [that didn't happen while] braking.

"Secondly, road safety is a big issue in that campaign that the FIA is constantly pushing, and the decisions which they take and how they govern the sport are very important in how it reflects to the rest of the world."

Vettel will no longer promote road safety for the FIA's campaign this year as a consequence of Monday's meeting.

"I still have the utmost respect for [Vettel] as a driver and continue to race him hard for the rest of the season... no less hard than we have up until now," said Hamilton.

"My only point to Sebastian was that I felt that saying that I had 'brake tested' him, [I said], 'I hope you can correct that publicly because people who were watching felt that that was something I did.'

"And the data showed that that was not the case, and in actual fact he accelerated.

"I think the goal for him was to be as close as possible to me and that was obviously an error in judgement. And my own point there in the reply to him was that I hope that he makes that clear.

"I had no intentions [to brake in front of him]. There was no need for me to do something like that as I was in the lead, so yeah I accepted his apology and moved forward."

'Jean Todt should be sitting here'

After the race at Baku, Hamilton said: "Driving alongside and deliberately driving into a driver and getting away scot-free pretty much – he still came away with fourth – I think that’s a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself to be honest."

When asked whether he would take back his statements following Vettel's lack of punishment, Hamilton replied, "I don't think anything changes. So my opinion stays the same.

"With all due respect, Jean [Todt, FIA President] should be sitting next to us to answer some questions. [The FIA] didn't change anything on Monday so the message stays the same."

The pair did their best to downplay the uneasy environment in the Thursday press conference, but Kevin Magnussen's presence between them did little to provide an ice-breaker; the fall-out between the title rivals could well continue in Austria as the battle heats up.

When the Danish Haas driver was asked who sitting next to him would win the championship, a deafening silence followed before he replied, "I can't see into the future. Let's see."

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