F1 drivers believe Vettel was in the wrong during GP chaos
SEBASTIAN Vettel maintained his innocence in the wake of a crazy Azerbaijan Grand Prix that saw Lewis Hamilton blast his driving as "disgusting”, but he's pretty much alone in that camp.
The Ferrari driver was slapped with a 10-second penalty in Baku when his car hit Hamilton's twice behind the safety car - once under braking and then again when Vettel drew alongside Hamilton to gesticulate at his title rival before swiping into the Mercedes.
Vettel said Hamilton was as much to blame for the contact as he was and should have been hit with the same penalty. But he's been the single voice spouting such a view, drowned out by a cacophony of widespread criticism and dismay.
Vettel is the bad boy of this F1 era. He had several blow-ups on the team radio last year when complaining of his rivals' driving, and former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine this year labelled the 29-year-old a "spoiled brat”.
Vettel may argue he was a victim in Baku (despite finishing fourth, one spot ahead of Hamilton) but Daniel Ricciardo isn't going to let him get away with crying foul.
The Aussie won his first grand prix of 2017 in a manic race on the Baku circuit and says Vettel needs to seriously re-evaluate how he goes about his racing. And he would know better than most, having partnered the German at Red Bull in 2014.
"Seb probably sometimes doesn't think before he acts,” Ricciardo said.
"It's probably driven through passion and hunger. He's kind of just got to put a lid on it sometimes.
"I respect Seb a lot for his grit and his love for the sport, which turns into a lot of passion and sometimes aggression. I respect and like that about him.
"But you have seen, whether it's over the radio, sometimes he will just go crazy. It is probably, what's the word? Spur of the moment? There's a better word.”
Ricciardo said Vettel was grasping for excuses that didn't stand up.
"Look, whether Lewis slowed down or not, he has every right to dictate the pace. He's the leader, and it was too early for him to accelerate,” Ricciardo said.
"You're not going to make the restart out of Turn 15. Seb was probably just a little bit over-excited.”
The Baku debacle now sees Vettel three demerit points way from becoming the first F1 driver to be suspended under the new regulations surrounding FIA licenses.
Under the rules of the FIA superlicenses granted to F1 drivers, racers face a one-race ban if they lose all 12 points on their license in a 12-month period.
Vettel lost three points on his superlicense in Azerbaijan, the fourth time he has been docked points on his license in the past 12 months. It means an identical three-point penalty at the Austrian Grand Prix, held on July 9, will see the four-time world champion suspended.
ESPN reports Vettel will receive two additional points back on his license between the Austrian race and the British Grand Prix (July 16) when his two-point penalty for forcing Felipe Massa off the track at the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix falls out of the 12-month window.
Vettel was also docked two points at the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix for being at fault in a collision with Nico Rosberg and a further two points for dangerous driving at the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix.