Hamilton will head into Sunday’s German Grand Prix eight points adrift in the championship standings following the Ferrari driver’s win at Silverstone a fortnight ago.
Vettel celebrated his victory by roaring in Italian over the Ferrari radio: “We are leaving with the British flag to hang at (Ferrari’s headquarters in) Maranello. We have won here at their home.”
Ferrari stoked the rivalry further by headlining their triumphant post-race press release with an ironic play on words. “A hammer blow,” they wrote.
Mercedes’s Formula 1 operation is based only a stone’s throw from Silverstone, while Hamilton’s comeback drive from last to second – after he was punted off at the first corner by Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – was cheered on by 140,000 British fans.
Responding to Vettel’s radio message, Hamilton said: “I heard something was said, but I see that as an act of weakness. It doesn’t affect me whatsoever. Good for him.
“We will keep our heads down, keep quiet, and focus on doing a better job across the board. That is our approach right now. I hope that when we do a good job this weekend, we won’t respond by saying, ‘oh, we did it at his home ground’. That is not necessary.”
Hamilton’s own conscience wasn’t exactly clear in the moments after his defeat at Silverstone. He snubbed an interview with broadcaster Martin Brundle before accusing Ferrari of dirty play.
Hamilton’s wild theory was that Ferrari had hatched a plan to wipe him out of contention by ordering Raikkonen to bang into him on purpose.
A day later, Hamilton admitted he got it wrong, and said sorry to Raikkonen in a series of apologetic posts to his 6.7million Instagram followers.
Hamilton finished second in both practice sessions on Friday with Ricciardo, and latterly Max Verstappen, leading the way for Red Bull. Vettel was fourth fastest.