Lewis Hamilton insists his respect for Sebastian Vettel has grown "a considerable amount" since their clash at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2017.

The two F1 Drivers’ title rivals return to the Baku street circuit for the first time since their crash ten months ago, which ended the camaraderie they had shared until that point in the season as they battled for the title.

It all started when Vettel, who was following the leader — Hamilton — behind the safety car, pulled alongside the Mercedes driver and deliberately rammed into him after accusing the British driver of brake testing him behind the safety car.

Prior to the incident, Vettel first hit the back of Hamilton’s car as he backed up the grid, but the German thought it was deliberate and in a moment of madness, pulled alongside his rival and turned into him causing a collision.

Lewis Hamilton Vettel leads Hamiton by nine points in the 2018 Drivers' championship. In this picture, Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and second place finisher Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari on the podium during the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, Oct. 22, 2017. Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

The Ferrari driver was handed an in-race penalty and later summoned for a meeting with the head of the FIA Jean Todt, where Vettel accepted full responsibility for his actions and delivered an apology to all concerned. There was no further action, despite many suggesting he got away lightly.

Hamilton labeled Vettel a "disgrace" after the race and the two just about acknowledged each other for the remainder of the season — as the Briton went on to win the title — after having shared a cordial relationship until then.

It has been ten months since the incident and the two are preparing to go head-to-head in Baku again on Sunday. The Mercedes driver, however, insists that there is no hatred toward Vettel, but actually more respect owing to the Ferrari driver’s actions since the incident.

“Not much really; it's good to see fire within the people that you're competing with, it's also good to see that they're not perfect because I guess nobody's perfect," Hamilton said Thursday ahead of the Azerbaijan GP, as quoted by Sky Sports.

"We all make mistakes but it's more so how people handle it and how they progress [that] is what you can really learn from. He's continued to progress as the champion that he is. How he presents himself, how he speaks, he continues to grow and the words that he uses today. The respect has grown, actually, a considerable amount since then. I'm sure it will continue,” the four-time world champion added.

Mercedes, meanwhile, have problems of their own going into the race in Baku, as they are yet to win this season. Ferrari took the chequered flag in the opening two rounds of the season in Australia and Bahrain, while Red Bull Racing claimed their first win in the most recent Grand Prix in China.

This is a new territory for the Silver Arrows team, who for the first time in four years have failed to win a race in the opening three rounds. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff welcomed the competition from Ferrari and Red Bull and has predicted the 2018 season to be "legendary."