LEWIS HAMILTON was left seething at Sebastian Vettel, branding him a “disgrace” for driving into the side of his car four years ago.
Lewis Hamilton could make history this weekend and become the first eight-time world champion in the history of Formula 1. He will have to outscore his title rival Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi – the drivers heads into the final race level on points, showing just how dramatic this season has been.
The two stars haven’t seen eye-to-eye this season, however.
In Saudi Arabia, they came together before the Mercedes car secured victory. This came after two big collisions at the British Grand Prix in July and the Italian Grand Prix in September.
Hamilton is used to big rivalries, however, as he also had plenty of title fights with German Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel, who now drives for Aston Martin, enjoyed his own spell of dominance, winning four in a row between 2010 and 2013 while at Red Bull.
He was also fairly close to Hamilton in 2017, who won the title by 46 points that year.
That season included a dramatic race at Baku in Azerbaijan, when Vettel was penalised for a shocking move.
Vettel was angry after he had gone into the back of Hamilton’s car while the Briton was backing up the field ahead of a restart.
The German drove alongside Hamilton shouting at him, before then turning his car straight into the Mercedes.
Vettel finished fourth. Hamilton, who had problems with a loose headrest, crossed the line in fifth.
After the race, Hamilton said of Vettel’s move: “I control the pace, all the other restarts I slowed down at the same spot.
“He lost concentration and hit me, that wasn’t for me the issue.
“Driving alongside and deliberately driving into some is a disgrace.”
Vettel accused Hamilton of dangerous driving and refused to acknowledge his rash actions.
Vettel said: “Nothing happened, did it…he brake checked me as well so what do you expect?
“For sure he did not do it on purpose. It was unnecessary
“I passed him because he pitted, I raised my hand and told him, showed him I was not happy.”
Asked about the second contact when he turned into Hamilton, Vettel added: “I ran in the back of him.
“We are racing but we are men. If we get a penalty we should both get a penalty.
“I guess it was the running into the back of him, but we are all grown-ups, we are men, emotions are running high.
“We want to race wheel to wheel, but not when it is a restart.”
Speaking to reporters after the race, Hamilton also told his rival to think of children watching the race at home and what they would think of his conduct.
He said: “If he wants to prove he is a man, do it out of the car face to face.
“Driving into a car could put someone at risk. Imagine all the kids watching today and seeing that from a four-times world champion.
“It is just not driver conduct. Dangerous driving, 10 second penalty for that sort of thing? Nah…”
Vettel and Hamilton are on better terms now they are no longer direct rivals, but the Aston Martin man has revealed that he would like to see Verstappen win the championship this year.
Because Vettel is a close friend of Michael Schumacher, he does not want to see Hamilton surpass his seven world championships.
Speaking last week, Vettel said: “Michael is my hero. For that reason, I probably don’t want Lewis to win.
“But the truth is that they both had a strong season and they are going into the last race with the opportunity to win the championship because they both deserve it.
“In a way, I’d be happy if Michael’s record still stands, but even if Lewis wins to me Michael is still the greatest.
“Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships, it doesn’t change anything for me.
“And I get along with Lewis so as I said, the gut says I want Max to win just to keep Michael’s record alive, but my head is quite clean, quite clear in terms of may the better man win.”