A miscommunication between Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly led to the two Toro Rosso drivers colliding during the Chinese Grand Prix.
Hartley had started ahead of his teammate on the ultrasoft tire but struggled and pitted early for mediums, while Gasly started on the medium and then opted for the softs near the halfway point of the race. With the two cars on different strategies, Hartley was set to let his teammate past but says the timing of the move was confused and led to the collision at the Turn 14 hairpin as Gasly made a late attempt to pass on the inside.
“I’ve been chatting with Pierre, clearly a miscommunication,” Hartley said. “We were on very different strategies. We swapped positions in the first stint as well because I was struggling on the ultrasoft. I let him by on the exit of Turn 14, and the second time I was asked, I planned to do the same,
“But my feeling is, I don’t know, he must have thought that I was opening a door on entry, which was not the case. Clearly a miscommunication. I think he thought I was letting him by, but I planned to let him by on corner exit as we were on different strategies. That’s what happened.”
Asked if he’d already been told of the plan, Hartley replied: “Yeah, which was at the start of the race as well – let him by at corner exit, which was fine. And then they asked me to let him by on Turn 14 again, and I planned to do the same.”
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Gasly’s own explanation of the incident highlighted the confusion, with the Frenchman believing it was pre-agreed that the move would be done into the hairpin.
“Basically I was catching Brendon and we were on two different strategies, at some point we would need a driver swap and they told me on the radio, ‘OK, Brendon is going to let you past’ at the end of the straight, as we had said with the engineers,” Gasly said.
“So I expected him to let me by. I went on the inside and finally, I don’t know if he didn’t see me but I expected him to leave a bit of space for me to turn. I was on the inside and it was too late, there was nothing I could do. I tried to brake to avoid him but it was too late, we made contact and that was it.
“It’s a shame because it’s the last thing you want to do, to have contact with your teammate. I think we misunderstood each other, I expected him to do one thing and he probably expected something else.
“We said before the race where to do it, so that’s why I expected him to do it but it wasn’t clear for him.”
Gasly was handed a 10-second time penalty for the incident but says the pace of the car was not enough for points on Sunday in China.
“With where we finished in the end it doesn’t change much. I think the main thing next time is we need to make sure we have better communication between each other. Just learn from it together.”