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

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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.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III