Vettel Apologises as Raikkonen Warns Against 'Payback'
Sebastian Vettel. (Getty Images)
Sebastian Vettel apologised to Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for their first corner collision at last Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix and played down talk of a simmering row with Dutch teenager Max Verstappen.
Speaking at Thursday’s news conference ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, the four-time world champion conceded that he had not allowed enough space when all three men crashed.
"There is not so much to talk about," said Vettel. "It is clear what happened. I thought there was Kimi on the inside, but it turns out there were three cars.
"The room I gave Kimi was not for three cars. Max was out of the fight, but then he thought he was not.
"I cannot see much in the mirrors. I could see Kimi was there and I was slightly ahead. If I had to do it again, of course, I give a bit more room and we make it.
"It was a pity for all three to be involved and not to come out of the corner being able to race for the podium because of that."
Raikkonen said: "Obviously, it was unfortunate. He said sorry and I said ok. We go forward. It wasn't ideal for us all three to be involved, but that is how it goes sometimes."
Raikkonen was more concerned with Red Bull driver Verstappen’s attitude and comments.
He said that talk of "payback" was inappropriate and said a Grand Prix race was "not the place" for it.
"Personally, I have nothing against Max," said the Finn.
"He is doing a good job. He is fast, but there are certain things, in my feeling, that are not correct -- if you have to slow down, or brake, at full speed.
"Everybody is allowed to say what they feel. Like I said, I have nothing personal against him, but certain things are not correct.
"If somebody says that, during the race, he does something because of what happened at the first corner -- that it is payback -- I don't think it is the correct sport to be purposefully paying back.
"It can end up in a very bad way. Yes, people make mistakes, everybody has made them and it will happen to all of us. You just have to accept it, but it’s not the place to start acting silly, in a way, and paying back something."
Vettel and Raikkonen have combined for nine podium finishes this year, although none in their past four races has created extra pressure ahead of the contest at the team's home track.
Ferrari's last victory was a year ago, at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, but Vettel has fond memories of Monza after claiming his first F1 win at the circuit in 2008 while racing for Toro Rosso.
He collected two further wins with Red Bull, in 2011 and 2013, and no longer is he the target of jeering fans as he was when he romped to four successive titles.
"Last year, in my first time in the red (Ferrari)suit, they made me realise that they don’t really hate me so much, as when I was with Red Bull," said Vettel.
"So, for me, it would be a dream if I could win this race here in red."