SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton questioned Ferrari’s ‘tactics’ on Sunday after a first-lap collision with Kimi Raikkonen ended the Briton’s hopes of a fifth home victory in a row on Sunday.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also wondered whether the incident, that sent Hamilton into a spin before he fought back to second at the finish, had been deliberate or simply a sign of incompetence.
Ferrari, winners with championship leader Sebastian Vettel, dismissed the suggestion and others also jumped to their defense.
“Interesting tactics, I would say, from their side but we will do what we can to fight them and improve in the next race,” a glum and terse Hamilton said immediately after the race.
Asked later by reporters about the comment and whether he suspected the incident had been deliberate, Hamilton only fanned the flames.
“All I’d say is that it’s now two races that the Ferraris have taken out one of the Mercedes, and a five-second penalty and a 10-second penalty doesn’t appear to feel...,” he hesitated.
“It’s a lot of points that ultimately Valtteri (Bottas) and I have lost in those two scenarios.
“I couldn’t see behind me but we’ve just to work hard to try to position ourselves better so that we are not exposed to the red cars — because who knows when that’s going to happen again,” he added.
Hamilton, who took time out before addressing the crowd and looked drained by his exertions, later said he had no concerns and no problem with Raikkonen.
Vettel and Bottas collided at the start of last month’s French Grand Prix, with both going to the back of the field.
The Ferrari driver, now eight points clear of Hamilton, finished fifth that day with Bottas seventh while Hamilton won.
“I think it’s quite silly to think that anything that happened was deliberate, at least, I would struggle to be that precise, you know, to take somebody out,” Vettel told reporters at Silverstone.
“In France, I lost my wing so I screwed my race.
“I only saw it briefly on the monitor, I don’t think there was any intention and I find it a bit unnecessary to even go there.”
Former world champion Jenson Button agreed there was no deliberate intent.
“This is not the way anyone goes racing anymore. But it’s tough and there is high tension,” the Briton told Sky Sports television. “They made mistakes but that’s what racing is all about. You try not to, but sometimes you slip up.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner was of the same opinion.
“When something like that happens, there’s going to be speculation but to me it just looked like a racing accident,” he said.
“Kimi’s not that kind of driver. I’d be amazed if there was anything untoward behind it.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neil Robinson