Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel accused Red Bull youngster Daniil Kvyat of “suicidal” driving after crashing into Ferrari colleague Kimi Raikkonen at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The collision came on the first corner of a race that Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg won to extend his lead in the drivers’ standings to 36 points over team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel finished second, albeit almost 38 seconds behind Rosberg, despite losing significant time when he and Raikkonen were forced to pit and have new front wings fitted.
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Russian Kvyat, 21, who started sixth on the grid and finished third, attempted to overtake Vettel at the first opportunity, prompting the German to veer into Raikkonen.
Vettel voiced his anger at “madman” Kvyat over the team radio, adding: “The attack was suicidal. There was always going to be a crash.” The pair then clashed verbally while waiting to take to the podium.
“If I don’t go to the left you crash into us and we all three go out. You came like a torpedo,” Vettel added. “I know it’s racing but you need to expect when you attack like a crazy you damage the car. You were lucky this time. There was damage to Kimi.”
Unrepentant Kvyat, steeled by securing Red Bull’s first top-three place of the season, hit back: “I am on the podium, so it’s OK. You are on the podium, fine.”
Rosberg plays down perfect start
Kvyat’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo took fourth ahead of Raikkonen, with Felipe Massa of Williams sixth and Hamilton, who has not won since clinching last year’s title, seventh.
History dictates that drivers who win the season’s first three races go on to claim the championship, although Rosberg played down the significance of his perfect start to 2016.
“Well, it’s too early to make any summaries,” he said. “It’s three races now and they’ve gone really well for me but it’s the longest season in F1 history with 21 races. Of course I’m happy with the way it’s gone and I’m feeling good and the car’s there but I don’t want to say more than that.”