SAO PAULO, Nov 18 — Ferrari team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc faced the wrath of team chief Mattia Binotto after their self-inflicted collision and double retirement in yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
The pair were battling for fourth position following the first safety car re-start in a tumultuous race when they clashed as Vettel retaliated after being passed through the Senna S curves.
They banged wheels as Vettel appeared to drift across the track and reduce the space for Leclerc.
Both cars were damaged, Leclerc suffering broken suspension to the front right of his car while Vettel had a rear left wheel puncture.
After both drivers had ranted on team radio, each blaming the other for the incident, team boss Binotto suggested they both had “at least a small percentage of responsibility” for an incident that heaped embarrassment on the Italian team.
He said they had “damaged the race of Ferrari”.
“I think the drivers need to feel sorry for the team,” said Binotto. “They were free to fight, but they know that silly mistakes are something we should avoid for the team itself.
“Today it has been a very small contact, I have to say, but there will be time to analyse it and there will be time to look at the video, I don’t want to do that in the heat.
“With the drivers, I had already a chat with them and I don’t want to judge now — they should not judge now. There will be a time to do it all together.”
Vettel said: “I didn’t have much space to the right and obviously had a better run out of Turn Three and tried to pass.
“That’s it... And a shame for the team, obviously.”
Leclerc said that Vettel had “started to squeeze me a little bit to the inside and we were very close. Everything happened very quickly, and as soon as he went to the inside we touched”.
The Monegasque driver added: “I’m pretty sure we are mature enough to put that behind us.”
The duo was not punished by the race stewards for the incident.
After speaking to both drivers and a representative of Ferrari, the stewards ruled both drivers could have avoided the collision.
“The stewards determined that both drivers had the opportunity to avoid or mitigate the incident and therefore that neither driver is predominantly at fault,” they said. — AFP