Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton (L) accused Sebastian Vettel of breaking safety car rules in Baku, Azerbaijan. In this picture, Pole position winner Ferrari's German driver Vettel (R) celebrates with second placed Mercedes' British driver Hamilton after the qualifying session for the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku, April 28, 2018. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton accused Formula 1 Drivers’ championship title rival Sebastian Vettel of breaking the rules behind the safety car at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Mercedes driver believes the German drove dangerously during the re-start after the safety car was called out in the opening lap and feels it could set a dangerous precedent that could cascade down to the lower rungs of formula racing.

Vettel was leading the pack as the safety car period was coming to an end in the opening laps of the race and he bunched up the pack in order to get a jump on Hamilton, who was in second place. The Baku circuit has the longest straight on the F1 calendar and it gives the following car a great slipstream to make a move going into Turn 1.

It was crucial for the Ferrari driver to get a good start and keep Hamilton guessing when he was about to make his move. This saw him try and fake the Briton on a couple of occasions due to which the Mercedes driver was forced to pull to the side rather than follow him and it did not sit well with the eventual winner.

“You are not allowed to start and stop, start and stop,” Hamilton said after the race, as quoted by BBC Sport. “You're not allowed to fake the guy behind. … If there was not that rule, that's what you'd do because eventually you'd catch them sleeping.”

Hamilton revealed it was not the first time Vettel resorted to such tactics, accusing the German of pulling the same stunt at the season opening race in Australia. The reigning champion is not ready to let it go and revealed he will bring it up in the next driver’s briefing prior to the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13 and clarify the rules with race director Charlie Whiting.

“In Australia he accelerated and braked and I nearly went into the back of him and (in Baku) he did it four times and I need to speak to Charlie, because I don't understand,” he said. “I understand he passed it to the stewards but they didn't do anything. They supposedly said everyone was doing it. But we're the leaders and it cascades down, what the first car does everyone does the same thing.”

"That now sets a precedent, and it means everyone who is leading under a safety car can start-stop, start-stop,” the Mercedes driver added. “I need to get it rectified when I have the briefing next because clearly they don't care about it. And if that's the case we will see more of it. I will expect it from him next time and I will try to prepare."

Hamilton, meanwhile, took the lead in the championship for the first time this season after his fortunate win at Baku and is currently four points ahead of Vettel. However, he is clear Mercedes have a lot of work to do in order to challenge Ferrari in terms of pure performance.