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Niki Lauda has launched a scathing criticism of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel for deliberately driving into Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes under the safety car during an ill-tempered Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

During the second safety car period on lap 19, Vettel ran into the rear of Hamilton as he was backing up ready to restart the race. Vettel, thinking he was being brake-tested, reacted angrily, driving alongside the Mercedes and turned into his left-front wheel to make firm contact.

Vettel's brain snap led to Hamilton labelling the move as a "disgrace", while it also earned the German a 10-second stop-and-go penalty which cost him a chance at winning the race and drew the ire of many across the sport, not least Mercedes non-executive director Lauda.

"Vettel is a decent guy. Normally. This I don't understand, because he's crazy," Lauda said. "[It's] strange. He freaked out.

"First, he was upset he hit him up the back but this was also his fault. Not Lewis's fault. Therefore, what he did after I don't understand. He could have damaged his car, Lewis' car, and could have been taking out of race, so don't know why he is risking all of that."

The incident looks like it will change the relationship between the two championship contenders - which has been good humoured and respectful - as Vettel still believes he didn't do anything wrong to deserve a penalty.

Indeed, the Ferrari driver went on the offensive to suggest that if he was handed a penalty that Hamilton should have received one too, as he damaged his front wing after running up the back of a slow Hamilton.

"If I'm Lewis I would certainly speak to Sebastian and ask him what is wrong," Lauda continued.

"But Vettel for me, he didn't do anything wrong, this is normal reaction. If everything goes wrong he's still somewhere in his brain - it's not my fault. I think after three days he realises then, hopefully, then he will be normal again."



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