The recriminations continued to fly after Sunday’s chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton accusing Sebastian Vettel of playing dirty and a call for the ‘monster’ Max Verstappen to be thrown out of Red Bull.
Hamilton won the race after fellow Mercedes man Valtteri Bottas suffered a cruel late puncture following a safety-car phase brought about by Verstappen controversially colliding with his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton claimed that Vettel broke the rules by deliberately speeding up and slowing down directly in front of him after the safety car pulled in for the restart.
Lewis Hamilton is angry with Sebastian Vettel’s break testing tactics after safety car restarts
Hamilton, who leads Vettel by four points in the drivers’ standings, said: ‘The rules are that when the safety car goes in, you’re not allowed to start and stop, start and stop.
‘You’re not allowed to fake the guy behind. Because naturally if there was not that rule, you’d eventually catch someone sleeping.
‘Every restart I’ve done, I’ve abided by that rule. In the first race in Australia, Sebastian accelerated and then braked and I nearly went up the back of him. And in this latest race he did it maybe four times.’
Hamilton added that he would seek ‘a clarification’ from race director Charlie Whiting before the next round in Barcelona.
The row had echoes of last year’s incident in Baku, where Hamilton, then ahead of Vettel, was accused of ‘brake-testing’ the German, who then drove into his rival in anger.
Hamilton claims Vettel has repeatedly break tested this season, four times in the last race
Down the paddock, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was dealing with his drivers crashing. He deemed them equally culpable, but Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda said Verstappen was 70 per cent at fault.
It was the latest high-profile example of the 20-year-old Dutchman’s aggression, and five-time grand prix winner John Watson, who had a distinguished career in the Seventies and Eighties, placed the blame squarely at Verstappen’s feet.
Watson told Sportsmail: ‘Red Bull have created a monster. After signing him up on a multi-million bucks deal, he thinks he is undisputed No 1. Actually, the way he races is as if he’s still in F3.
‘If I ran the team, I’d swap him with Pierre Gasly, put him back in Toro Rosso (Red Bull’s junior team for whom Gasly drives), to learn how to be a grand prix driver. Until he realises that driving as recklessly as he does serves nobody, he is just going to be a dangerous hot-rod.
‘To think smart, not fast, is beyond him. Over four weekends so far he has screwed up each time. They’ve created a monster and it is difficult to control it now.’
Niki Lauda blamed Max Verstappen for Red Bull crash and John Watson calls him a ‘monster’