War brewing over F1’s dirty accusation
LEWIS Hamilton said Ferrari used "tactics" after he was hit by Kimi Raikkonen at the British GP, while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the collision was either "deliberate or incompetent".
Hamilton was shunted by Raikkonen at the start of the race at turn three and had to fight back through the field after dropping to last place, eventually finishing second behind race winner Sebastian Vettel, in the sister Ferrari.
It is the second time in three races that a Mercedes car has been hit by a Ferrari at the start of the race, with Vettel running into Valtteri Bottas at the French GP.
While Wolff admitted the Hamilton-Raikkonen clash was a racing incident, he said: "Le Castellet was the first time we got taken out and this is the second, it's a lot of constructor points.
"To put it in James Allison's (Mercedes technical chief) words, this is either deliberate or incompetence."
Mercedes later claimed on social media there was "no accusation" from the team, posting on Twitter: "Nobody is seriously suggesting it was deliberate. Kimi made a mistake. Admitted it and apologised to Lewis."
Raikkonen was adjudged to have been at fault with the stewards meting out a 10-second penalty.
But Hamilton was not happy despite his fine comeback drive.
"Interesting tactics I would say from this side but we'll do what we can to fight them," Hamilton said.
Later asked if he was "comfortable" with the incident, Wolff replied: "I'm not comfortable at all with the incident because it's tiresome to be taken out in the first lap."
Hamilton added: "All I would say is that it's two races in which a Ferrari has taken out a Mercedes. Valtteri and I have both lost out in those situations."
Vettel, however, who now leads Hamilton by eight points in the title standings, vehemently denied any foul play.
"It's silly to think that anything happened was deliberate," he insisted. "I don't think there was an intention and l think it's unnecessary to even go there."
Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda took aim at the Scuderia, saying it was yet another incident of the Italian team ruining the Silver Arrows' race.
"The accident was unfair basically, because it's the second time a Ferrari hits us in the first corner, and it's not funny. But that's the way it is," Lauda said.
Former F1 star Jenson Button however didn't believe Ferrari intentionally rammed Hamilton.
"It's definitely not intentional. This is not the way anyone goes racing anymore. But it's tough and there is high tension," Button said.
"It's not easy to overtake in a Formula 1 car and they're trying to make those moves stick on lap one.
"They made mistakes but that's what racing is all about. You try not to but sometimes you slip up."
In their official ruling, stewards said Hamilton had "clearly left significant room on the inside" of the corner and that Raikkonen "locked up his right front tyre, understeered and caused a collision".
The Ferrari driver had two penalty points applied to his superlicence in addition to the in-race time penalty.
Raikkonen accepted fault for the collision after the race and said his penalty was deserved.
"My bad, but that's how it goes sometimes," said the Finn, who recovered to finish third.
"It was my mistake, so that's fine. I deserve it, I took the 10 seconds and got fighting."