In Friday second practice session – Lewis Hamilton made second fastest lap-time ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel, top four were separated by only 0.375 seconds at the end of a closely-contested session that ended with Vettel complaining that three-time champion Hamilton was slowing him down as he followed him.
While Vettel said he understood that Hamilton wasn’t purposely baulking him, it did disrupt his session.
“I think towards the end I understood what we need, what the car needs, what we’re planning to do, so it should be a better day tomorrow,” said Vettel.
“All in all it’s been a tricky session, quite slippery the track. It’s was a bit annoying, I was stuck [behind Hamilton], I wanted to get a good feel to the car, I’d leave a gap. Then he would do a mistake so it’s unfortunate but it was mistakes. It was breaking a bit the rhythm but we understood.”
“The problem was when you try to do consecutive laps, with traffic it’s not ideal. I’m pretty sure he didn’t do them on purpose, he was trying to do the same and get a feeling for the car.
“But it was slippery today and easy to do mistakes, I think I spun twice today. I think it will get better during the weekend, the circuit usually improves a lot here.”
Hamilton was surprised to learn that Vettel had complained on the radio, saying: “What’s there to complain about, it’s bloody practice, man!
“This is a difficult track in terms of traffic. I had someone in front of me so I had to back up and that meant he had to back up.
“That’s just the way it goes, nothing to get emotional about.”
The Brit did suggest, however, that about needs to be done about drivers backing off on the long straight before the final chicane, as it can lead to dangerous closing speeds between cars.
He asked during the session to be put through on the radio to F1 race director Charlie Whiting, and said he wants to see a system put in place for safety reasons.
“Coming down that back straight at over 200mph there are people backing up and waiting to start their lap with a gap,” he said.
“They’re like a dot in the distance and then that dot…before you know it there’s a difference of at least 100-200km/h in front of me and they’re going at a snail’s pace and it’s dangerous.
“One day somebody is going to get caught out, so I was saying maybe we should be sensible and we should find a gap at Turn 10 and then you have to be on the gas and you can’t slow down.
“It would be safer for everyone. We’ve got a drivers’ briefing where we can tell him.”