Hockenheim: Lewis Hamilton's 100th Formula One race ended in frustration and retirement in Germany on Sunday after his McLaren suffered a puncture early on and he was lapped by the leaders.
The 2008 world champion dropped to fifth place in the overall standings and was languishing 62 points behind leader Fernando Alonso at the halfway mark in the season after retiring in the pits on the 58th lap.
Hamilton started seventh on the grid but his hopes of adding to his only win of the season, in Canada, were ended when he ran over debris left after Brazilian Felipe Massa lost the front wing of his Ferrari at the start of the race.
By the time he had pitted and rejoined, Hamilton had dropped a minute behind Alonso and seen his chances evaporate.
"I'm not really quite sure (what happened). We had obviously a puncture, there was a lot of debris on the track, I was a little bit unlucky there and then we don't know what happened with the car," he said.
A consolation for Hamilton was that his car was quick after the misfortune, the Briton angering Vettel when he unlapped himself to get between the German and race winner Alonso on the track.
"At least it showed that the car was quick enough this weekend," said Hamilton.
Vettel gestured angrily as Hamilton went past, more for effect and to catch the attention of the stewards than anything else, and was critical of the McLaren driver afterwards.
"It was stupid for him to disturb the leaders," said the 25-year-old, who was demoted from second to fifth after the race for running off the track while passing Hamilton's team mate Jenson Button.
"That was not nice of him, I don't see why he was trying to race us. I didn't expect him to attack because I didn't see the point, I was surprised when he was side by side."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also criticised Hamilton, saying his behaviour had not been very sporting.
Hamilton had said before the race that he was reluctant to celebrate the 100 race milestone, saying that getting older was not something he was happy about. He also admitted he was frustrated not to have added to his 2008 title.