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UPDATES: Lewis Hamilton has since spoken to the written media and suggested Sebastian Vettel's move was deliberate.

Lewis Hamilton says Sebastian Vettel disgraced himself for his part in their controversial incident behind the safety car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and has speculated whether his side-swipe may have been deliberate.

The flashpoint came on lap 19, as Hamilton bunched the pack up ahead of the safety car restart which caught Vettel out and saw him run into the back of the Mercedes at turn 15. Angered by the incident, Vettel pulled alongside Hamilton and appeared to steer towards the Mercedes driver which caused the pair to clash wheels.

The incident was investigated by the race stewards, after a chaotic red flag stoppage, and Vettel was handed a 10-second stop and go penalty.

Coupled with Hamilton needing to pit to replace a broken headrest, Vettel eventually finished in fourth place and just ahead of Hamilton in fifth.

Hamilton has taken a dim view on the clash by labelling his title rival 'a disgrace', while he was similarly unhappy with his punishment which he says allowed Vettel to get off 'scot-free'.

"I didn't brake test him. I was controlling the pace so like all the other restarts I slowed down at the same spot but he was obviously sleeping so drove into the back of me," Hamilton told Channel 4. "But that wasn't the issue.

"Driving alongside and deliberately driving into another driver and getting away freely, pretty much as he finished fourth, I think that is a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself today.

"If he wants to prove that he is a man I think we should do it out of the car and face to face. I think driving dangerously in any way can put a driver at risk. Luckily, we were going slowly, if we were going faster it could have been a lot worse.

"Imagine all the young kids watching Formula 1 today and see that kind of behaviour from a four-time F1 world champion. That says it all."

Hamilton has also suggested Vettel's side-swipe could be deliberate after gesturing angrily by calling the collision 'clear' to see.

"There's no reason to pull up alongside the leader at that point. It couldn't be clearer, it's as clear as blue skies," he said. "We're the world champions, we're the best drivers in the world.

"Maybe if you're going down the road in your road car and you put your hand out the window and do this, you might swerve to the right, but we don't do that. We've been racing for years, we just don't do that."

Hamilton is keen to keep the higher ground after the incident which he may look to use against his rival in the mind games as the title battle intensifies.

"I want to keep going, I think we had the upper hand this weekend and will continue to move forward in the future," he said. "Through difficult times your true colours show so it is a good day for me."

Hamilton has slipped to 14 points behind Vettel in the F1 world drivers' championship after the opening eight rounds of the 2017 F1 season.

 

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