Baku clash saw Vettel and Hamilton become friends
By Mat Coch
Wednesday 30th November, 2022 - 1:42pm
The clash between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw the pair become closer friends.
Vettel infamously drove into the side of Hamilton in the moments prior to a Safety Car restart.
At the time the German complained he’d been brake tested by the race leader, though replays and data produced post-race showed that accusation to be wide of the mark.
The then-Ferrari driver was given a 10-second stop-go penalty for his actions.
Hamilton’s race unravelled when the headrest on his car came loose, forcing an unscheduled stop and dropping him down the order, where he became stuck in a DRS train.
“Actually, I think from that moment onwards…,” the four-time world champion began.
“…our friendship got better,” Hamilton said, completing his rival’s sentence.
“Yeah, a lot better,” added Vettel.
“So, I don’t want that to not happen, if you see what I mean.”
Vettel finished fourth with Hamilton one spot further back, the former heading the championship by 14 points after what was the eighth round of the 2017 season.
Daniel Ricciardo went on to win the race from Valtteri Bottas with Lance Stroll claiming his maiden F1 podium in third for Williams.
The championship rivals would remain locked in battle for the title until the Singapore Grand Prix, where Vettel retired following a start-line clash with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, in a race won by Hamilton.
Following that event, the Mercedes driver held a 28-point advantage in the drivers’ championship, extending that to 46 points by the end of the campaign.
It was Hamilton’s fourth Formula 1 championship, and the closest Vettel would come to a fifth for the balance of his career.
Now officially retired, the 35-year-old is unsure exactly what his future holds, with no firm plans yet in place.
“I think I quite look forward to the idea of nothing at first, and then see what it does to me,” he said in Abu Dhabi.
“There’s lots of other things in my head as well, other interests and ideas outside racing.
“Obviously, I have done this for so long and a big part of it’s been central to my life.
“It will be difficult to say that I’m not going to miss it, but how much and whether then I start to look at something else, we’ll see.
“For some reason, I like rallying, but I can see as a major challenge because it’s so different to what we do in, let’s say, classic circuit racing.”