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"So I was nervous I had lost part of my floor or something because the auto was moving for unknown reasons, but then it started to get better and better, after some tweaks to the settings".

Raikkonen, who accepted full responsibility for the contact, was handed a 10-second time penalty and went on to classify third, while Hamilton recovered from the rear of the pack to take second, behind victor Vettel.

Raikkonen apologised for his first-lap brush with Hamilton.

Having grabbed the lead at the start of race, two late Safety Car periods had left Vettel behind the Mercedes driver but with a tyre advantage. Sauber's Marcus Ericsson loses control over his auto and crashes one of the safety walls.

Hamilton secured pole 24 hours earlier, but his getaway here was slow and it was not long before Vettel had passed the Brit for the lead with Bottas following suit. Hamilton is already second, but the German has already had his first pit stop, while the Brit is still going on his current tires.

Reacting to the comments Sebastian Vettel told reporters: "Things can happen, but I think it's quite silly to think that anything that happened was deliberate".

"The situation is hard to judge", said Vettel , "because we haven't seen much today and mostly collected data, and also because time is limited between the two sessions". I will not give up.

In both cases, the penalty did not seem sufficient to satisfy Mercedes, or their drivers, after their races were wrecked by rivals' mistakes.

Raikkonen was at fault for the coming together and the stewards concurred as they slapped the Ferrari driver with a 10-second penalty.

"At the third corner I locked the wheel so I ended up hitting Lewis on the rear corner".

"Obviously he spun. My bad, but that's how it goes sometimes".

The penalty saw the Finn drop from fourth to 10th place and was more good news for Hamilton, who made it into third after the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo pitted.

"At least I would struggle to be that precise in order to take someone out".

Elsewhere, solid drives from Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg pushed them level with Force India in the points table.