The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

GOINGNUTSI­NBRAZIL

RedBull’sVer­stap­pen­takesful­lad­van­tageas­feud­ingFer­raridriver­sim­plodeatIn­ter­la­gos

- Sports · Formula One · Car Racing · Motorsports · Sebastian Vettel · Charles Leclerc · Ferrari S.p.A. · Red Bull GmbH · Max Verstappen · Brazil · Lewis Hamilton · Hamilton · McLaren · Carlos Sainz · Texas · London · Melbourne · Mattia Binotto · Scuderia Toro Rosso

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Charles Le­clerc pointed the fin­ger of blame at each other fol­low­ing their late col­li­sion on yet an­other mis­er­able af­ter­noon for Fer­rari as Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen roared to vic­tory in the Brazil Grand Prix yes­ter­day.

Ver­stap­pen de­liv­ered a dom­i­nant per­for­mance at In­ter­la­gos to win for a sec­ond time this year, fin­ish­ing ahead of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, with Lewis Hamilton tak­ing the flag in third.

Hamilton, how­ever, was handed a fivesecond penalty, drop­ping him to seventh and pro­mot­ing McLaren’s Car­los Sainz to third, fol­low­ing a penul­ti­mate-lap com­ing to­gether with Alex Al­bon.

The world cham­pion’s col­li­sion with Al­bon en­cap­su­lated the fre­netic na­ture of a race ef­fec­tively deemed a dead-rub­ber after the Bri­ton sewed up his sixth global ti­tle in Texas a fort­night ago. Yet, de­spite Ver­stap­pen’s mas­ter­class – the Dutch­man prov­ing again why some re­gard him as the best driver on the grid – and Hamilton’s ban­zai move on Al­bon, which cru­elly de­nied the Lon­don-born Thai his first ca­reer podium, the penul­ti­mate round of the 2019 cam­paign might yet be re­mem­bered as the straw that broke the camel’s back at Fer­rari.

The ten­sion has been sim­mer­ing be­tween their two driv­ers – the four-time world cham­pion Vet­tel and emerg­ing tal­ent Le­clerc – since the open­ing round of the cam­paign in Mel­bourne eight months ago. Here, at one of the stand­out venues on the grand prix cal­en­dar, it sen­sa­tion­ally boiled over.

Le­clerc, hav­ing started 14th fol­low­ing a grid penalty, was bat­tling Vet­tel for fourth with five laps to go. The young Mone­gasque dived un­der­neath Vet­tel at the Senna Esses and made the pass stick. It was a per­fect move.

Le­clerc held off Vet­tel as they emerged from the third cor­ner, but on the run down to the en­su­ing bend Vet­tel latched on to Le­clerc’s tow before draw­ing along­side his team-mate and then sub­tly mov­ing across him.

Vet­tel’s left-rear tyre made con­tact with Le­clerc’s right-front and in a flurry of sparks and bro­ken car­bon fi­bre both Fer­raris were out of the race. The con­tact was gen­tle, but the re­sult dev­as­tat­ing.

Le­clerc vented his anger by wag­ging his right fist at Vet­tel, who looked to be at fault, from in­side his Fer­rari cock­pit.

Both men were then on the ra­dio in a se­ries of fu­ri­ous out­bursts.

“What the hell is he do­ing?” said Vet­tel, protest­ing his in­no­cence.

“What the hell,” yelled Le­clerc in the sis­ter Fer­rari, before he de­liv­ered a num­ber of bleeped-out ex­ple­tives.

Later, the 22-year-old said: “I left the space Seb took and then to­wards the end of the straight he started to squeeze me.

“Ev­ery­thing hap­pened very quickly and as soon as he went to the side we touched and then I had a punc­ture. In the fu­ture, we will put it behind us and con­tinue to work to­gether.”

Fer­rari team prin­ci­pal Mat­tia Binotto claimed it is a lux­ury to have two su­per­star driv­ers, but for how much longer is their part­ner­ship ten­able?

“The driv­ers need to feel sorry for the team be­cause they were free to fight,” Binotto said.

“I am dis­ap­pointed. They know that silly mis­takes are some­thing we should avoid.

“When you have a crash there are two driv­ers and both of them have got at least a small per­cent­age, or a part per­cent­age, of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I don’t want to judge now.”

Both driv­ers were then pulled from a sched­uled print media brief­ing last night, leav­ing Binotto to face the mu­sic alone.

“We pre­fer it like this,” said a Fer­rari spokesper­son.

 ??  ?? DUTCH DE­LIGHT: Red Bull driver Max Ver­stap­pen, of the Netherland­s, cel­e­brates on the podium after winning the Brazil­ian Grand Prix
DUTCH DE­LIGHT: Red Bull driver Max Ver­stap­pen, of the Netherland­s, cel­e­brates on the podium after winning the Brazil­ian Grand Prix
 ??  ?? Clash: Fer­rari driv­ers Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Charles Le­clerc saw red dur­ing the race yes­ter­day
Clash: Fer­rari driv­ers Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Charles Le­clerc saw red dur­ing the race yes­ter­day
 ??  ?? Bit of a prang: For world champ Lewis Hamilton
Bit of a prang: For world champ Lewis Hamilton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK