Silverstone, Northamptonshire - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has questioned Ferrari's 'tactics' after a first-lap collision with Kimi Raikkonen ended the Briton's hopes of a fifth consecutive home victory on Sunday.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also wondered whether the incident that sent Hamilton into a spin before he fought back to second at the finish, had been deliberate or simply a sign of incompetence. But Ferrari, the winner with championship leader Sebastian Vettel, dismissed the suggestion and others also jumped to its defence.
A glum and terse Hamilton said immediately after the race: "Interesting tactics, I would say, from their side but we will do what we can to fight them and improve in the next race."
Asked later by reporters about the comment and whether he suspected the incident had been deliberate, Hamilton only fanned the flames, saying: "All I'd say is that it's now two races that the Ferraris have taken out one of the Mercedes, and a five-second penalty and a 10-second penalty doesn't appear to feel...
"It's a lot of points that ultimately Valtteri and I have lost in those two scenarios. I couldn't see behind me but we've just to work hard to try to position ourselves better so that we are not exposed to the red cars - because who knows when that's going to happen again."
Hamilton, who took time out before addressing the crowd and looked drained by his exertions, later said he had no concerns and no problem with Raikkonen.
Vettel and Bottas collided at the start of last month's French Grand Prix, with both going to the back of the field. Vettel finished fifth that day with Bottas seventh while Hamilton won.
Vettel told reporters at Silverstone: "I think it's quite silly to think that anything that happened was deliberate, at least, I would struggle to be that precise, you know, to take somebody out. In France, I lost my wing so I screwed my race. I only saw it briefly on the monitor, I don't think there was any intention and I find it a bit unnecessary to even go there."
'Kimi's not that kind of driver'
Former world champion Jenson Button agreed there was no deliberate intent.
"This is not the way anyone goes racing anymore," he siad. "But it's tough and there is high tension. They made mistakes but that's what racing is all about. You try not to, but sometimes you slip up."
Red Bull boss Christian Horner was of the same opinion.
"When something like that happens, there's going to be speculation but to me it just looked like a racing accident," he said. "Kimi's not that kind of driver. I'd be amazed if there was anything untoward behind it."
French driver Pierre Gasly also lost a point after collecting a post-race penalty that promoted Sergio Perez to 10th and lifted Force India above McLaren in the standings.
Stewards imposed a five-second penalty after ruling that the Toro Rosso driver had caused a collision with Perez and gained a place as a consequence of his actions. Force India is now a point clear of McLaren, which drops to seventh, two points behind fifth-placed Haas.
"With two laps to go, Gasly pushed me off track," said Perez, whose team mate Esteban Ocon finished seventh. "I gave him enough space but that was not enough: we still made contact and I lost the place. I believe it was an unfair move."Reuters