Jean-Eric Vergne believes Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards were right not to penalize Fernando Alonso for overtaking him off the track.
The Toro Rosso driver said he had not seen Alonso as the Spaniard emerged from the pits on the 45th lap of the race, meaning he took his regular line through Turn 3.
Stewards investigated the incident as technically Alonso passed Vergne for seventh while outside the track limits, but no action was taken on the basis that the Ferrari driver had no choice.
Vergne praised Alonso for his actions and said they prevented the possibility of a big accident
“It was a racing incident and if he had not gone on the outside [of the track] like he did, we would have had a big crash,” Vergne said. “It was high speed, and what he did was right. Actually, I am really happy he did that otherwise we would have had an accident, so yes, definitely [the stewards made the right decision].”
“I knew that I might be racing against him but as I didn’t see him on the left, I thought he was in front of me. But he was next to me where I could not see him.”
The incident made little difference to the Frenchman’s result, as he plummeted from contention for the points to 18th in the closing stages. This was because his one-stop strategy had to be aborted thanks to tire degradation.
“It’s really frustrating to end the race like this,” said Vergne. “I’d been backing off the whole race to save the tires so obviously the performance was better than it looked and in the end it just didn’t last long enough.
“It’s really frustrating to fight for a position for the whole race and it all falls apart at the end.”