Mercedes accuse Red Bull of trying to tarnish Lewis Hamilton’s reputation
Mercedes have accused Red Bull of a “concerted attempt to tarnish Lewis Hamilton’s good name and sporting integrity” as the Formula One war of words raged on.
Less than an hour after it emerged Red Bull had failed in their attempts to convince the FIA to review Hamilton’s 10-second penalty – following his opening-lap collision with Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix – Mercedes hit back at their title rivals.
In a statement, the world champions said: “The Mercedes F1 Team welcomes the decision of the stewards to reject Red Bull Racing’s right of review.
“In addition to bringing this incident to a close, we hope that this decision will mark the end of a concerted attempt by the senior management of Red Bull Racing to tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton, including in the documents submitted for their unsuccessful right of review.
“We now look forward to going racing this weekend and to continuing our hard-fought competition for the 2021 Formula One World Championship.”
It is understood that Red Bull’s evidence log, which was presented to the British Grand Prix stewards via a conference call on Thursday afternoon, accused Hamilton of driving dangerously and, in effect, causing the collision on purpose.
In a statement the FIA – F1’s governing body – said the stewards noted “with some concern, certain allegations made” by Red Bull who felt Hamilton’s punishment was too lenient.
Red Bull had presented a crash dossier to the stewards, hoping that Hamilton’s punishment would be reviewed. The document included a number of slides using GPS data of Hamilton’s collision with Verstappen and a comparison of the Briton’s race-winning move on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the same corner.
But the FIA panel ruled that Red Bull’s evidence did not carry fresh evidence to warrant a retrial.
As such, Hamilton’s 99th win stands with the world champion heading into this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix just eight points behind Verstappen. And the seven-times champion remains defiant that he would repeat the move on the Dutchman as they battle for the title.
“I would do the move exactly the way I did it [the] last [time],” he said. “I have reviewed it and analysed from all my experience, and my experience over the years speaks for a lot and I wouldn’t change it.”
Hamilton confirmed that he called Verstappen to check he was OK following the Silverstone crash but it appears there is considerable ill-feeling lingering. Verstappen reiterated his accusation that Hamilton and Mercedes’ celebrations were unacceptable and that it reflected badly on the character of the Mercedes team.
“What I mean by disrespectful is one guy is in hospital and the other guy is waving the flag around like nothing has happened after pushing the other guy into the wall at 51G,” he said.
“But it is not only that, it is the whole reaction of the team. That is not how you celebrate a win, especially a win in the way that they got it. That is what I found really disrespectful and it shows how they really are, it comes out in a pressure situation. I wouldn’t want to be seen like that.”
Hamilton responded by explaining he and the team were unaware Verstappen had been taken to hospital. “I don’t believe our behaviour was disrespectful,” he said. “It’s one thing knowing and then celebrating what happened and one thing not knowing and celebrating. I wasn’t aware.”
Hamilton received considerable racist abuse on social media during and after the race, which was condemned by F1, but he said that if it ultimately improved equality and diversity by highlighting the problems, it was a price worth paying.
“It was amazing to see the support from the sport, my team and from some of the drivers, I felt for the first time I didn’t stand alone in the sport,” he said. “For all the other years I have been racing no one would ever say anything. When it happened in 2007 [his debut year] no one said anything.
“There is no room for that sort of abuse but if I have to be on the receiving end of it in this industry for people to become aware, that is part of my journey.”
Earlier on Thursday Hamilton also expressed his strong opposition to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Hungary. Last month the government passed a law banning gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s.
“To all in this beautiful country Hungary, ahead of the grand prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the government’s anti-LGBTQ+ law,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram.
“It is unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding for those in power [to] suggest such a law. Everyone deserves to have the freedom to be themselves, no matter who they love or how they identify.”
The country is set to hold a referendum on plans to censor LGBTQ+ education and “I urge the people of Hungary to vote in the upcoming referendum to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, they need our support more than ever,” he wrote.