Ferrari wants answers to clash in Brazil
Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will have to explain their collision at the Brazilian Grand Prix in a special debrief on their return to Maranello.
In the closing stages of Sunday’s race, they collided with each other while fighting for fourth place taking each other out. Team principal Mattia Binotto summoned both drivers to his trackside office after the incident, but only to tell them that they were not to discuss the details of the collision with the media and that they should both apologise to the team.
A further debrief, in which Ferrari will fully analyse the incident from data and video, will take place in Maranello in the coming week. Binotto told ESPN, “I’ve not reviewed the incident and I don’t want to do it today. I think that when doing things in the heat of the moment, you can come to the wrong conclusions.”
“I heard both drivers, but we will meet again together with them to discuss what happened today and there will be time for the team to analyse all the video and the data.” He says whatever the decision both drivers should be sorry for the team.
Since becoming team principal at the start of the year, Binotto has been reluctant to publicly apportion blame for poor results. But there has been a feeling that this clash was coming following Leclerc’s wins at Spa and Monza as well as disagreements in both Monza and Sochi.
Although Binotto believes having the collision this year may be positive for the relationship between the drivers in 2020. Adding “The fact that it happened today, I would say it is even lucky it happened this season because there will be opportunities to clarify, in view of next year, what is not allowed to happen.”
Asked if he regretted not using team orders in the race, he says Vettel and Leclerc were free to race because they have already secured second place in the constructors’ championship ahead of Red Bull.
Brazil showed the wave of new talent
Lewis Hamilton believes that the enthralling Brazilian Grand Prix showcased the potential of F1’s “wave of young talent”. The six-time champion says he’s “battling as hard as I can” to keep up with the likes of Max Verstappen.
The race at Interlagos began with the six-time champion going wheel-to-wheel scraps between Hamilton and Verstappen before two late Safety Cars led to more drama, with Hamilton eventually colliding with Alex Albon and racing to the line with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly for second place.
Hamilton admitted that his mistake resulted in a five-second penalty and demoted him to seventh. He told Sky Sports, “It was a great race. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a little bit upset at the end as I never want to collide with anyone but of course, I was taking risks.”
He says he gave absolutely everything and more, despite not having a lot of pace and believes the team were faster than they should have been.
Following Hamilton’s penalty, the podium was eventually filled by superb race winner Verstappen, 22, Gasly, 23, and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, 25 – making it the youngest top-three in F1’s history. Hamilton says that it is inevitable that the youngsters come through.
Adding, “There’s often a wave of young talent that manages to make its way through to Formula 1 and I think Formula 1’s got a lot of new young blood with a lot of potential and they really are the future of the sport.”
Despite being in his mid-thirties, Hamilton still believes he can stick with these drivers and that more battles are going to continue. Hamilton has frequently described as Verstappen as a worthy title rival and is predicting more battles with the Red Bull star in 2020.
Speaking about Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon, he said “Alex has been driving fantastically well, it’s not easy to be a team-mate for sure, of a well-experienced driver like Max but he’s been doing great and I can assure you I know exactly how he feels right now.”
Bottas facing a potential grip penalty
Mercedes says it doesn’t yet know if Valtteri Bottas will need to take a grid penalty in Abu Dhabi after his retirement from the Brazilian Grand Prix with an engine issue.
The engine he used at Interlagos has been returned to its Brixworth base, will stripped and analysed. A final decision on the plan for Abu Dhabi will be made early next week.
Bottas had to park up on lap 53 in Brazil after smoke was seen coming from the rear of the car over the previous lap. Following his retirement he told the media, “I think there was a bit of smoke. I didn’t actually see the smoke myself, but they reported to me, but I couldn’t feel any loss of power, just the engine switched off after Turn Three.”
After the race Mercedes technical director James Allison said it was too early to know if the engine was salvageable. Allison added that he does that half a lap before oil consumption during the race.
Bottas says that all his engines have completed their planned schedule in terms of races – in effect they do seven race weekends each.
A Mercedes spokesman said of the used engines: “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they couldn’t do another [event], but that wouldn’t necessarily be preferred.”
Gasly “best day of my life”
Pierre Gasly has described his shock second place for Toro Rosso in Brazil, just three months after losing his Red Bull drive, as “Unbelievable”. “A dream”. “The best day of my life”.
The Frenchman secured second ahead of Alex Albon to take Toro Rosso’s best finish in over a decade by finishing behind Max Verstappen at Interlagos, as he led the midfield and then took advantage of Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon’s late collision.
Gasly said “It’s just the best day of my life right now. It’s about the last few months but also all the efforts and sacrifices you do since you are young dreaming about this day.”
“I didn’t really imagine it was going to happen right now, but I just gave everything I had all the time. It’s just fantastic. That’s why I love motorsport and that’s why I want to stay in the sport for so many years because this kind of day is just amazing.”
Gasly held off Hamilton in the closing stages before the six-times champion was handed a penalty. The Frenchman had a difficult season, he was a close friend of Anthoine Hubert, who died after a tragic crash in Belgium in September.
“I thought about Anthoine, who was one of my best buddies, who would have dreamed to be up there. I thought about all the people who supported me through my career to put me in that position.”
He says since he returned to Toro Rosso he has been thinking about how he can better himself and work on the little details that can make you better.
“I told the team when I came back that I really wanted to take all the opportunities each weekend, but I never imagined this would happen in Brazil, second place in Toro Rosso, fighting Lewis on the line – it’s just unbelievable.”
Sainz’s best race in F1
Carlos Sainz is in no doubt that his charge from the back of the grid to take his maiden podium finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix was the best race of his life.
The McLaren driver bounced back from being unable to set a time in qualifying due to an engine problem, to cross the fine-line at Interlagos in fourth place, before gaining a third when Lewis Hamilton was given a penalty.
Sainz says despite committing to a one-stop strategy he was in full ‘attack mode’, despite knowing he knew would leave him exposed at the end.
Asked by Motorsport.com about how he rated the race, the McLaren driver said: “My best. Definitely, because it was a normal race. It was dry, people were between one and two stops and we committed to a one-stop.
“I had to make moves on the first few laps and I did them. There was a move on [Sergio] Perez especially that was really, really good and from then on the tyre management kicked in.” He then managed to extend his stint on the mediums and found himself coming through the field and saying for once we took a bit of a gamble and this time it paid off.
Sainz also could not explants why he was able to hold on to his place right at the end of the race, with his tyres well past their best. He said he had no grip and that his wheels, which stopped him putting heat into the tyres.