Getty Images

Hamilton still has ‘utmost respect’ for Vettel despite Baku spat

Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton says his relationship with Sebastian Vettel remains unchanged despite their clash and spat in Baku two weeks ago, claiming to have the “utmost respect” for his Formula 1 title rival.

Vettel and Hamilton came to blows behind the safety car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the latter receiving a penalty for dangerous driving when he side-swiped Hamilton at slow speed.

Hamilton told NBCSN after the race that he believed the lack of serious penalty set a “dangerous precedent” for the future, and was quoted by foreign media as saying Vettel had been “a disgrace”.

The clash was investigated by the FIA, who opted to take no further action, with Hamilton and Vettel facing the media for the first time since the ruling in Thursday’s press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

When asked if the matter was over, Hamilton said: “It is for me yeah. I’m solely focused on this weekend. I said everything I felt I needed to say at the last race and just left it there.”

The Mercedes driver went on to reveal that he spoke with Vettel about the incident the day after the race, believing that their cordial rivalry and relationship had not changed.

“Sebastian and I spoke after the race on the Monday and then shortly after that he messaged me the day after,” Hamilton said.

“For me, I just said that I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and will continue to race him hard throughout the rest of the season in the same way I always have. No less hard than we have already up until now.”

Hamilton did, however, want to make clear that he did not brake-test Vettel, as he had been accused of doing.

“My only point to Sebastian was him saying that I had brake-tested him. I said I hope you can correct that in public because people who were watching felt that was something I did and the data obviously showed that was not the case,” Vettel said.

“In actual fact he accelerated. I think he wanted to be as close as possible to me but that was an error in judgment.

“My only point there in my reply to him was that I hope he makes that clear because there was no need for me to do something like that because I was in the lead.

“I accept his apology and we move forward.”

” I’m happy to hear that it doesn’t seem to have a big impact [on their relationship]” added Vettel.

“Obviously what I did was wrong and I apologized. I think it’s totally up to Lewis. I did a mistake and it’s nice to hear that we’re able to move forward.

“I think the respect we have for each other on track, off track, it helps us in this regard.”

Regarding his post-race comments, Hamilton did not wish to take anything he said back, but was happy to move on from the incident and leave it in the past.

“I don’t feel I was particularly upset after the race. If I was it was for other reasons but I don’t feel like I said anything that I would wish to take back,” Hamilton said.

“I’m still under the same opinion of what happened but it is water under the bridge now.

“We have spoken about it and want to move forward so there is no point in saying much more.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.