Sebastian Vettel said Lewis Hamilton used “dirty tricks” to try and take the 2016 Formula 1 world title in Abu Dhabi.
Because of course Vettel did.
There was no sign of ‘Hammer Time’ at the Yas Marina Circuit, as the British driver tried to back his rival Nico Rosberg into the chasing pack in a bid to claim the championship.
The Red Bulls and, in particular, Vettel were quickly catching the Mercedes duo in the final stages and Hamilton deliberately slowed his pace to try and push Rosberg into the clutches of them.
On super-softs, Vettel flew ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, before latching onto the back of Rosberg’s car and not letting go. Things got very, very tense.
But while the gap was pretty slim, he couldn’t find a way through. No matter how hard he tried. Hamilton won the race, Rosberg finished second and took the title, with Vettel third.
After the race, Vettel said over team radio: “It was a difficult situation in the end with Lewis playing some dirty tricks.”
He then went into more detail of the scrap in the closing laps, admitting Hamilton being so close meant he had to be careful when attacking Rosberg.
Vettel said: “Daniel was fairly straightforward to pass, but when I arrived behind Max, I started to slide and the car got worse.
“Behind Nico I was faster due to fact Lewis was slowing down, but they were very, very quick down the straights. With Red Bull it was easier as Max didn’t have DRS, where Nico did.
“Second straight I had a look, but Nico defended well. I couldn’t try something stupid because Lewis was just ahead – if I dived inside or outside, I had the risk of hitting Lewis. It was critical and I saw Max coming back.
“Last laps were intense, I was thinking at some point to win the race. Nevertheless, I am happy with the podium.”
Hamilton insisted he did nothing wrong in holding up Rosberg, saying he doesn’t think what he did was dangerous or unfair. ” I was in the lead so I control the pace. Those are the rules,” he added.
But while Vettel called it “dirty tricks”, Verstappen had a different view. He said he “probably would have done the same, you have to try these things to win a championship”.