Lewis Hamilton has said he will treat Sebastian Vettel with caution ahead of the first- corner dash at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on Sunday.
Vettel will be under the microscope on the 300-metre run to the uphill opening right-hander following his early collision with Valtteri Bottas at last weekend’s French Grand Prix.
Vettel was penalised by the stewards after he lost control of his Ferrari and drove into Bottas’ Mercedes. He finished only fifth as a dominant Hamilton claimed his third victory of the season.
“If I am going into Turn One and I know how close Sebastian is to me, I will brake super-late, and deep, to avoid being hit from behind,” Hamilton said.
“There are certain drivers that you give more space to than others. Those are the things that you put into your memory bank so you are aware of.”
Vettel was deemed at fault for the opening-lap collision at the Paul Ricard Circuit. It marked the German’s second critical error of the year – after he fell from second to fourth in his failed attempt to pass Bottas for the lead at April’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix – and his fifth in 12 months.
Asked if he feared that such mistakes were derailing his championship challenge, Vettel sarcastically replied: “I am very concerned. I find it all rather funny.”
He added: “There are some errors that we shouldn’t make and there are some that happen. I am not worried and I don’t think there is something fundamentally wrong [with my driving]. I hope I know what I am doing most of the time.” Vettel’s Ferrari and Hamilton’s Mercedes have been well matched this year, but the German heads into the ninth round of the campaign 14 points behind the Englishman. Hamilton has been in and out of form this season, but unlike his rival, has enjoyed a clean year.
“Mistakes are not part of the plan,” Vettel added. “We have a strong package and every race can make a difference.
“You are trying to push the limits. It didn’t cross my mind in Baku to stay behind Valtteri, surrender, and maybe wave another person past to collect some points. That is not how I define racing.
“I tried to make the move. I saw the gap and went for it. I didn’t make it. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.
“I am not thinking about France too much. I looked at the incident on Sunday night, and at some point you have to move forward.”
Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, could be moved on at the end of the season if the Scuderia choose to hire the talented Charles Leclerc from Sauber.
Raikkonen’s former team McLaren might be an option for the Finn if Fernando Alonso quits the British team.
“I spoke to them [McLaren] in the past a lot obviously when I used to be there,” Raikkonen, 38, said. “We’ll see at some point what happens.”