Lewis Hamilton says Sebastian Vettel's lack of composure under pressure has been "kind of obvious" for a while, not just after his controversial car chop at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Vettel earned himself a 10-second stop-go penalty and moved to within three points of a one-race ban for driving up alongside Hamilton during the race, raising his right arm and slamming into the No.44 car. The irate German was protesting what he had perceived to be a brake-test from Hamilton while the three-time world champion was managing the pace under the Safety Car, though the data later showed Vettel's assumption to be incorrect.
Hamilton says it should not be surprising Vettel acted in the way he did, pointing to the Ferrari driver's angry tirades in the latter part of 2016 -- which included him telling FIA race director Charlie Whiting to "f--- off" on the radio while protesting Max Verstappen's driving during the Mexican Grand Prix.
"I think that's been kind of obvious for some time now," Hamilton said when asked about Vettel's apparent lack of composure. "If you look at last year, some of the things he came and said on the radio, so we know how he can be. I honestly would never have thought that would happen today, but we as a team can only look at that as a positive for us. He is obviously under pressure and that's not a bad thing -- that shows that pressure can get to even some of the best of us."
Despite the incident, Vettel managed to extend his championship lead -- finishing ahead of Hamilton in fourth after the Mercedes driver pitted from the lead after his car's head rest came loose. Until that point, the championship fight had been good-natured between the two drivers, who have seven world titles between them, and Hamilton hopes that remains the same despite the events of Baku.
When a question started to him about Vettel and "fair play" in 2017 so far, Hamilton cut the journalist short and said: "Well, today wasn't fair play, so..."
The journalist then clarified that Vettel had not shown his angry side so far in 2017, to which Hamilton said: "No, definitely. Today was obviously a different Sebastian we've seen than in those eight races. I'd like to think I remained respectful and I will continue to do so because I will do the talking on the track and win this championship the right way."