Lewis Hamilton questioned world champion Sebastian Vettel’s maturity after the Red Bull driver called him “stupid” at Hockenheim.
German Vettel disliked the way Hamilton overtook him despite being a lap down during the German grand prix.
“That was not nice of him,” said Vettel. “It’s a bit stupid to disturb the leaders.”
When told about the 25-year-old’s comments, Briton Hamilton responded: “Hmm. Maturity has come through I guess. It shows his maturity.”
Vettel even suggested Hamilton had made the move in order to disturb him in his battle with the sister McLaren of Jenson Button. But Button insisted: “He (Hamilton) is allowed to do that.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh also defended the 2008 world champion.
“Racing drivers race. If that’s stupid, I don’t know what else is. He was quicker, overtook and pulled away, so I’m not quite sure of the stupidity. That’s for others to comment on I suppose.”
Indeed, others sensed more – even F1’s high-stakes politics – was at play. Rumours were swirling in the paddock that tensions between the two camps had swelled again, amid suggestions it was McLaren who blew the whistle on Red Bull’s iffy engine maps.
“That’s the nature of Formula One,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “You are always going to get other teams who will speculate that you have done wrong.”
Writing for Der Spiegel, correspondent Ralf Bach smelled an even bigger rat, with the pre-race torque map controversy and Vettel’s post-race penalty all in the mix. The conspiracy theory is that the FIA is clamping down on Red Bull amid the reigning world champions’ refusal to agree new cost-limit regulations.
Referring to Vettel’s penalised pass on Jenson Button, Dr Helmut Marko observed that, “normally, the race director would have sent an email that he should have let Button back past. Not this time,” the Austrian said.
The post-race drive through penalty cost Vettel not only second place, but also third and fourth.