SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Lewis Hamilton has criticised Sergey Sirotkin for the incident which saw them nearly collide in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Early in Q2, the session before the Q3 shootout for pole, Sirotkin approached Hamilton as both were on an out-lap. Hamilton moved off the racing line, going across the track to the left, to open up the racing line for the Williams driver -- at the same time, Sirotkin moved in the same direction, forcing him into evasive action which saw him narrowly miss the Mercedes after approaching him at a much higher speed.
The incident occurred on the run up to the Juncao corner as both were trying to find themselves gaps on the track to complete a timed lap without encountering traffic. Hamilton went on to secure pole position, edging out Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 0.09s, and after the session reflected on the incident with the Russian.
"Everyone was on an out-lap... me, Sergey and everyone in front of me," Hamilton said. "And when you are on an out-lap... Valtteri was ahead of me and he was backing off to get his gap so I had to back off.
"I was making sure I had the gap but then all of a sudden I saw a car coming at high speed and was like 'oh my God, is that someone coming on a lap?' So I went left, but he was going left. But he wasn't on a lap, so I don't know what his thinking was.
"We all know to keep a gap. It was a disrespectful move. I was trying to get out of his way and then he got to the corner and slowed up. It was kind of strange. It was completely unnecessary because behind him there was a bit of space so ultimately his lap and my lap weren't great. Hopefully he can learn from it."
There was no investigation launched into the incident, presumably as neither man was on a hot lap at the time. Sirotkin, who drives for Mercedes customer team Williams, also exonerated Hamilton of blame in his own TV interviews and said he understood the Mercedes driver had been trying to move off the racing line to let him through.
"No, I mean, to be honest, nothing I'm too angry with him for," Sirotkin said. "I needed to push that lap to get my tyres... It was all a bit unplanned where we were and we could not put the tyres in the blankets between the runs so we were massively down on temps. Basically that out-lap was as quick as my any other lap, almost. I was properly flat out, I was coming through the very quick left-hander there, and he was stopping to prepare his lap.
"I went on the left, not even hoping that he would let me go because he was so slow and I was coming so quickly and then in the last minute he saw me and tried to avoid me, and he gave me the racing line but I was already on the left so I had to pass through the grass and basically my lap was ruined after that. But he's champion, he knows what he's doing and didn't change my position at the end of the day. But it's a good day in general.''