Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel crashed out of his home German Formula 1 Grand Prix while leading the race on Sunday, eliciting a mixture of sympathy and scorn online as British driver Lewis Hamilton claimed victory.
Vettel was looking good to extend his lead at the top of the drivers' championship when he was running first at the German Grand Prix on lap 54 out of 67 before crashing out as the rain began to fall.
That handed Mercedes driver Hamilton – who was starting from 14th on the grid after mechanical problems in qualifying – a run at the lead, which he duly took to finish first ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in second and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikonen in third.
The win – which reversed Vettel’s win over Hamilton at his home British Grand Prix at Silverstone two weeks ago – means that the Mercedes man has opened up a 17-point lead at the top of the drivers’ standings.
On crashing out, an emotional Vettel was heard swearing on the team radio, although the four-time world champion told Sky Sports after the race that it “wasn’t a huge mistake.”
"It's not like I will have huge difficulties sleeping tonight because I made a big mistake. We didn't need the rain,” the German added.
“We have a strong car, so we can be as confident, more confident, than anybody else. It was one of those moments. My mistake. Apologies to the team. Small mistake, big disappointment. The tyres weren't fresh, but it was slippery for everyone.”
Social media users reacted with a mixture of sympathy and glee to a driver whom some felt had gloated when beating Hamilton at the Brit’s home grand prix last time round, as well as fans who had taken pleasure at the Mercedes driver's misfortunes during qualifying in Germany.
Others were much more sympathetic, especially having listened to the emotional radio message Vettel had posted after the crash, in which he appeared on the verge of tears and was heard swearing.
Vettel will now attempt to chase down Hamilton’s lead as Formula 1 heads to Hungary next weekend.