Vettel: Relationship with Hamilton underwent "key moment" in 2017

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Sebastian Vettel says a "key moment" in 2017 changed his relationship with then arch-rival Lewis Hamilton from a respectful rapport into a solid friendship.

Vettel and Hamilton and shared wins in the first part of their 2017 campaign, the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers duly isolating themselves at the top of the Drivers' championship.

At the eighth round of the championship in Azerbaijan, the two were once again pitted against each other. However, the race had come to a standstill after eleven laps when the yellow flag was deployed.

As Hamilton paced the field ahead of a race start, an unhappy Vettel drew up alongside his rival and rammed into the Mercedes after incorrectly suspecting he had been brake-tested by the Briton.

Vettel was eventually handed an in-race penalty while Hamilton, unimpressed by his opponent's antics, called the German's behaviour "a disgrace".

Although a messy affair that generated a lot of negative exposure for Vettel, the clash ultimately proved to be a pivotal moment in the relationship between the two drivers.

"I was very upset," Vettel recalled on a recent Beyond the Grid podcast. "It was one of these moments where things didn't go my way and I was upset. Maybe the emotional side did take over too much.

"But that moment actually was a key moment. It could have made us step away from each other more or bring us together and it brought us together.

"I reflect and I did think about what happened. As much as I may have felt in the moment that was not fair, not right and I wanted to tell him, it was the wrong form of communication.

"It was not the right way and not sportsmanlike.

"I admitted [that] afterwards and we talked to each other and since that moment, we became closer to each other."

And Vettel and Hamilton have remained close ever since, the two great champions often being supportive of each other's activism.

At the end of last year, to cap off Vettel's final season in Formula 1, Hamilton was the one who brought everyone together for an end-of-year night out in Abu Dhabi to celebrate his former rival's life and time in the sport.

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