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Hamilton: I was waiting to wipe the smile off your face

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made it quite clear that there is no love lost between the two as the first round of their race to bag a fifth Formula 1 world championship title this year got off to a decidedly icy start.

Mercedes driver Hamilton powered to his record seventh pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, while Ferrari’s Vettel had to settle for third place and a massive seven tenths down on Hamilton’s best time of 1:21.164.

The pair then had a feisty tete-a-tete during the post-qualy press conference they had the following exchange after Hamilton was asked if he dialled up the power for his final Q3 run:

  • Hamilton: “I can assure you we don’t have a party mode. I use the same mode from Q2 to the end of Q3. There was no extra button or mode I engaged in.”
  • Vettel: “What were you doing before then?”
  • Hamilton: “I was waiting to put a good lap in… and wipe the smile off your face.”

Later during the press conference, Hamilton tried to cool the obvious tension:

  • Hamilton: “It was a joke, dude.”
  • Vettel: “I know. He’s free to have a party tonight, hopefully we’ll have a party tomorrow.”

That all went sour as last year’s championship progressed and eventually came to a head during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in what will be remembered for Vettel’s road rage swerve into the Mercedes driver during a safety car period.

That was the catalyst to damage the relationship apparently beyond repair, with the latest exchange of words another step in their constantly deteriorating relations.