Vettel, Leclerc summoned to explain collision

Vettel, Leclerc summoned to explain collision

SAO PAULO-Agence France-Presse
Vettel, Leclerc summoned to explain collision

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has called drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc to a clear-the-air meeting after their collision wrecked the team's hopes at the Brazilian Grand Prix.    

The pair, who collided while fighting for fourth place on Nov. 17, were forced to retire from the race, leaving Ferrari embarrassed and pointless and the drivers arguing about who was to blame.    

"There will be time (for us all) together at Maranello to understand what happened," said Binotto, in the wake of a tempestuous race won with authority by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.    

"It's not for me to blame them, it's for them to recognise it."    

Speaking to reporters in the aftermath of a costly race for the scarlet scuderia, Binotto said he needed time to take stock and review the crash, on lap 66 of the 71-lap race.    

Both cars were damaged and forced to retire in the incident, which came after a Safety Car restart when Vettel 'closed the door' on a challenging Leclerc.    

It resulted in Ferrari's first scoreless race since the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix and refocused criticism on the team's habit of generating self-inflicted damage -- and the fractious relationship between their drivers.            

"I have not reviewed yet, I don't want to do it yet," insisted Binotto. "I think doing things in the heat of the moment, we may have the wrong conclusion.    

"I heard both drivers, but they will come as well together to discuss again what happened and there will be time for the team to analyse all the video and the data.    

"Whatever will be the judgement, more important is we are disappointed and sorry for the team.    

"But first, the two drivers should be sorry for the team -- as it has been a very small crash with big consequences...     

"They are silly things that should not happen.    

"It's a matter of recognizing eventually what have been the actions and mistakes. It's important, because that can only make you better."    He said the Maranello meeting would not be about apportioning blame and punishment.    

"It's not a matter of fining or blaming," he said. "They were free to fight, we let them race and the reason for that is that we have the second place in the constructors' (championship)..."

"Free to fight doesn't mean to do silly actions, especially between the two team-mates and the two Ferraris. For me, it was simply a silly action.    

"There is always something you can do better, but today the mistakes were from the drivers. As a team, what could we have done better? We need to think...    

"And, certainly, we need to improve that for the future and that it is not to happen anymore."

Max Verstappen underlined his potential as a champion of the future on Nov. 18 with a commanding victory for Red Bull in an astonishing and crash-hit Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.    

The 22-year-old Dutchman brushed off several attacks from newly-crowned six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, twice passing him after pit-stops, to come home a dominant victor ahead of his former team-mate Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.    

"That was a lot of fun out there," said Verstappen. "It is great to win the race. We knew we had the speed all weekend so I was happy to get past this time."      

Frenchman Gasly, replaced at Red Bull mid-season by Thai driver Alexander Albon, held off Hamilton after a wild finale to cross the line ahead of him by just 0.062 seconds and score his first podium finish.    

Hamilton, who collided with Albon on the final lap, finished third, but faced a post-race stewards investigation.    Albon, who looked certain to finish second, limped home 15th.    

Carlos Sainz finished fourth for McLaren ahead of the two Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, seventh-placed Daniel Ricciardo of Renault and Lando Norris in the second McLaren.    

Sergio Perez finished ninth for Racing Point and Daniil Kvyat was 10th in the second Toro Rosso.    

It was Verstappen's eighth career victory and made up for his disappointment in last year's Brazilian race when he looked certain to win before a late collision.    

"I apologise massively to Albon -- the gap was there, but it closed pretty quickly. It was completely my fault... I gave everything and raced my heart out and took some risks," said Hamilton.    

Gasly said: "For sure, I will never forget this -- it's such a special moment, so emotional and special to get it with Toro Rosso. These guys have given me a great car."    

The result meant that Honda supplied the engines that powered home two of the cars on the podium along with Hamilton's Mercedes.

Formula 1,