Nico Hulkenberg has brushed off his encounter with Lewis Hamilton during opening practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix and said the recently-crowned four-time world champion simply drove off track.
The Renault driver caught a slow-moving Hamilton in the final sector at Interlagos while on a flying lap in FP1, before making a move up the inside of the Briton at Juncao. Hulkenberg's late pass left little room for Hamilton, who was forced to run wide onto the grass in order to avoid contact. Hamilton quickly opened up his pit-to-car radio and said he felt the German's actions were "very dangerous".
The stewards opted not to investigate the incident, while Hulkenberg felt he had doing nothing untoward.
"I don't know, he always like to play around a bit," Hulkenberg replied when asked about the incident following second practice. "He took a massive gap and I just got him and he decided to stay on the outside and drive off the track. It's not really my thing. That's what he did! I was clearly ahead. If he wants to drive off the track, fine with me!"
Renault is looking for a return to form at Interlagos following a nightmare Mexican Grand Prix, in which both drivers retired. The French manufacturer looks best-placed to capitalise on the battle for sixth place in the constructors' standings, sitting just five points behind Toro Rosso.
However, Renault made a slow start in Brazil, with Carlos Sainz and Hulkenberg a second outside of the top ten in 15th and 16th respectively in FP1, before improving to ninth (Hulkenberg) and 11th (Sainz) in the afternoon. Sainz was pleased with the progress Renault was able to make between sessions.
"Definitely in FP1 we were a bit off the pace but I think we found the solutions, we found the reasons why and for FP2 we were pretty much where we expected to be," Sainz said.
"It was a positive day because we made quite a lot of progress throughout the day trying new things, particularly on my side of the garage trying different directions, different set-ups and stuff that makes me learn a lot from the car and get used to new things."