How a crash improved relations between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were once F1 title rivals, but an incident in Baku had a profound effect on the pair


Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a relaxed press conference ahead of his last F1 race before retirement, and explained how his infamous Baku crash with Lewis Hamilton had improved their friendship.

Hamilton‘s notably distant with many drivers in the F1 paddock, especially the younger generation led by Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris, but his bond with Vettel has blossomed despite the pair being title rivals for most of their careers.

However, their relationship hit its nadir at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix when Vettel deliberately hit Hamilton behind the safety car after he thought the Brit had brake-checked him.

“I think Baku for me wasn’t a great moment because of what I did wasn’t right but I don’t want that to know not happen,” Vettel told the media ahead of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“I think from that moment onwards…” he started, “our friendship got better” Hamilton finished, “I think we always had such great battles, honestly.”

The pair battled for the world championship for most of the 2010s but rarely had cars completely equal in performance.

At the peak of his powers with Red Bull, Vettel won four consecutive titles but after the rise of Mercedes in 2014, he moved to Ferrari and couldn’t string a full campaign together and never took the title battle to the final race.

The Baku crash came in the midst of one of those seasons, Vettel led heading into the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend but was unable to sustain that and Hamilton wrapped up the championship with two races still to go.

Fernando Alonso was also present to face the media alongside Vettel, the Spaniard was Vettel‘s main challenger from 2010-13.

“It’s going to be strange to not have him in next year,” Alonso said, “We share so many things.

“Over the last 15 years, sometimes we fought for championships, sometimes for seventh place, and we still obviously always enjoy every single battle and respected each other as much as we could.”

Standout moments

Though pushed at the press conference, he refused to name one highlight moment from his career.

“I don’t think it’s fair to pick one,” Vettel said. “I obviously can’t speak for an hour now and I don’t really want to but I think I’ve been lucky that there’s been so many moments to choose from.

“I guess that was the ‘firsts’ always stand out but every era had its highlights, even the last two years from a sporting point of view maybe they weren’t really a highlight, but I think I learned a lot, progressed, grew and had a good time together with the team.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for and in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
- Advertisment -


Lando Norris after taking Sprint Pole at the 2024 Chinese GP | McLaren F1 Team

Starting Grid for F1 2024 Chinese GP Sprint Race – Provisional

In a thrilling conclusion to the Sprint Qualifying at the Shanghai International Circuit, Lando Norris clinched the pole position...

Christian Horner hits back at Sergio Perez as he’s drawn into Carlos Sainz contract...

Christian Horner has praised Carlos Sainz as a key player in the 2025 Formula 1 driver market while dampening...
Lando Norris during 2024 F1 testing | McLaren F1 Team

Why Lando Norris’ Chinese GP sprint pole lap was reinstated by FIA

Lando Norris experienced the highs and lows of qualifying all in the space of a few seconds after seeing...
Charles Leclerc during the 2024 Australian GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc vents frustration after Ferrari sprint qualifying failure

Charles Leclerc has lamented his latest error in qualifying after the Ferrari driver experienced a frightening near-miss ahead of...
Max Verstappen of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen gives Hamilton and Norris Chinese GP sprint hope with twin Red Bull worries

Max Verstappen conceded he could struggle at the start of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix sprint race starting on...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, practice | Mercedes / Sam Bloxham

Lewis Hamilton at odds with Toto Wolff despite Chinese GP sprint shock

Lewis Hamilton believes he maintains a chance of winning the F1 Sprint at the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand...
Lando Norris during 2024 Japanese GP | McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris rides rain and fire to take chaotic Chinese GP sprint pole

Lando Norris took the latest of pole positions as carnage ensued in sprint qualifying, with a rain-soaked SQ3 coming...
Grass at the Shanghai International Circuit caught fire during FP1 and Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese GP | Sky Sports F1

Chinese GP struck by fires as Shanghai Circuit burns on Friday

Formula 1 Sprint Qualifying was thrust into chaos on Friday morning when fires hit the Shanghai International Circuit as...
Sergio Perez of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Chinese Grand Prix 2024 – Sprint Qualifying Results

Lando Norris clinched a dramatic Formula 1 pole position during the rain-affected sprint qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand...
Max Verstappen of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Chinese Grand Prix 2024 Sprint Qualifying – Highlights

Welcome to this live blog for Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, coming to you directly from the paddock...
- Advertisment -