Austrian Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel regrets Lewis Hamilton incident in Baku

Hamilton and Vettel collide
Vettel deliberately turned in on Hamilton in Baku after believing he had been brake-tested

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel says he regrets deliberately driving into title rival Lewis Hamilton in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and has apologised to him.

The German escaped further punishment for the incident at an inquiry held by governing body the FIA on Monday.

Vettel said: "It was the wrong move, to drive alongside him and hit his tyre.

"Am I proud of it? No. Can I take it back? No. Do I regret it? Yes. I had the impression I was fouled. That was wrong. I wasn't happy, I overreacted."

Hamilton, who trails Vettel by 14 points in the championship heading into this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, said he accepted his rival's apology and said his main concern was for the four-time champion to withdraw his accusation that the Mercedes driver had "brake-tested" him.

"We spoke after the race on Monday and shortly after that he messaged me the day after," Hamilton said.

"I just said that for me I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and will continue to race him hard as a driver as we always have and no less hard.

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"My only point was that saying I had brake-tested him, I hoped he could correct that because people watching would think I had. That was not the case.

"In fact, he accelerated. It was an error of judgement. I said I hoped he made that clear. I had no intentions to do that. There was no need.

"There wasn't actually an apology in the conversation we had, even if that was maybe the intention. The next day when we were texting there was an apology and I did accept it."

Vettel said he had been caught out by the differing speed in the cars as they exited Turn 15 preparing for a restart after a safety car period.

"At the time I was surprised," he said. "It felt like Lewis hit the brakes and I couldn't stop hitting the car. But I don't think he actually brake-tested me. At the time I read it like that."

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel
The incident that started it all: Vettel alleged Hamilton brake-tested him when the race was restarted after a red flag

It is the second incident in seven months in which Vettel has lost his temper in the car - at last year's Mexican Grand Prix he swore at race director Charlie Whiting because he was angry Red Bull's Max Verstappen was not being penalised.

But Vettel denied he had an issue with anger.

"I don't think so," he said. "I can see why you might believe it's not [the case]."

Hamilton said he did not want to withdraw his comment that Vettel was "a disgrace" for driving like he did in Baku.

"I wasn't particularly upset," Hamilton said. "If I was, it was for other reasons. I don't think I said anything I should take back.

"I am of the same opinion as to what happened but it is water under the bridge and there is no point saying much more."

Vettel added: "I am happy to hear we are mature enough to move on.

"What I did was wrong. I made a mistake. I apologised but it doesn't take it away.

"If I could go back in time and take it back, I would. But as I can't it is good to say we focus on the weekend and go out and race."

Vettel was given a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the incident. He ended up finishing in fourth place with Hamilton fifth after the Briton had to pit from the lead to replace a loose head restraint.

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