A slow start from Mercedes Lewis Hamilton meant he bogged down and was hit by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 3 as the Finn locked-up and a small twitch was enough for his front left to make contact with Hamilton’s right rear.
Hamilton spun off the road and joined at the back of the grid, which forced him to fight through from their to finish second with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel winning and extending his points lead. Raikkonen was third and Valtteri Bottas fourth.
This led Hamilton to uncharacteristically state: "Interesting tactics, I would say, from their side but we will do what we can to fight them and improve in the next races." He called this on the podium looking over at the Ferrari drivers.
He then added more context to it: "All I’d say is that it’s now two races that the Ferraris have taken out one of the Mercedes, and a five-second penalty and a ten-second penalty doesn’t appear to feel… ultimately it spoils the race.
"It’s a lot of points that ultimately Valtteri and I have lost in those two scenarios. And, of course, it is a race situation. I couldn’t see behind me but we’ve just to work hard to try to position ourselves better so that we are not exposed to the red cars – because who knows when that’s going to happen again.
"We’ve got to make sure that we work hard together as a team to try to lock-out the front row and make sure that we’re fully ahead of these guys." Hamilton was referring to the French GP incident when Vettel took out Valtteri Bottas on Lap 1.
Even Mercedes boss Toto Wolff quoted James Allison when speaking to Sky Sports F1. "A racing incident. Unfortunate because Le Castellet first time we got taken out and now it is the second time we got taken out.
"It is a lot of constructor points. In [technical director] James Allison’s words, ‘do you think it is deliberate or incompetence?’. So this leaves us with a judgement." The two Ferrari drivers were asked for their opinion as wel.
"Things can happen but I think it’s quite silly to think that anything that happened was deliberate, at least, I would struggle to be that precise, you know, to take somebody out," said Vettel.
"In France, I lost my wing so I screwed my race. I think it’s easy to obviously attack and have a great move and also easy to have an incident. I don’t think… I mean, I only saw it briefly on the monitor, I don’t think there was any intention and I find it a bit unnecessary to even go there."
Raikkonen added: "Things happen sometimes. Funnily enough you start blaming us that we did it purposefully but he locked a wheel and unfortunately we touched and both paid the price for it and that’s how it goes sometimes.
"It’s easy to say after the couple of races that we’re suddenly doing something against them but we’ve been hit very many times ourselves so that’s how it goes unfortunately." Raikkonen had already taken the blame for the incident.
Ferrari’s team boss Maurizio Arrivabene was surprised and annoyed at the same time by Mercedes’ reactions. Arrivabene questioned Allison’s thoughts, since he has first hand experience of the Maranello team, having worked for them in the past.
When all was said and done, Hamilton took to social media. He said: "Kimi said sorry and I accept it and we move on. It was a racing incident and nothing more. Sometimes we say dumb shit and we learn from it."
He added: "I’m so disappointed in myself after yesterday’s race when I left you all with the perception of a sore loser as I honestly don’t feel I am. And worst most of all, allowed you many the opportunity to shit on me, lay false claims to my name of which my family and I have worked so hard for.
"But you know what, it’s OK. I can accept that I deserve it mostly and will try to better and be better."
About the Author
Darshan Chokhani is a FIA Accredited journalist covering both Indian and International championships, including Formula 1, MotoGP, Formula E, World Endurance Championship and more. Although specialising in motor racing, but follows Cricket, Tennis, WWE and events involving Indian athletes.