Charles Leclerc says Sebastian Vettel squeezed him on the straight towards Turn 4 as the two Ferrari’s collided and retired from the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Vettel was attempting to fight back after being overtaken by Leclerc at Turn 1 late in the race, and got a run on his teammate out of Turn 3, using DRS to pull alongside on the outside of the track. Before he was fully clear of Leclerc, Vettel’s left-rear tire touched the front right of the other Ferrari, giving both damage that took them out of the race.
“We need to analyze the situation better but from what I’ve seen from in the car I passed into Turn 1 and then on the run to Turn 4 I left a small space round the outside,” Leclerc told MBC Action. “He chose to take it, and then I left that space open but I think he tried to squeeze me a little bit towards the inside towards the end of the straight.
“We were very close — everything happened very quickly and we touched.
“It’s very frustrating, especially for third place in the championship it’s now going to be very difficult with only one round left. So I’ll give it my all and we will see, but it’s frustrating after a race like this.”
Vettel was less forthcoming about the incident, speaking before both drivers were cleared by the stewards as neither was found to be predominantly to blame.
“Not much to talk through,” Vettel said. “Obviously I had a better run out of the chicane and then tried to pass.
“It’s a shame we didn’t finish the race. We were fighting quite aggressively in the chicane, I had a lot better exit and a lot more battery left, I thought I had already got past, I don’t know why we touched but that ended both our races.”
With late safety cars bunching up the field, while Ferrari lost points Vettel believes the team did not miss out on a chance of victory.
“I think Max (Verstappen) was out of reach — he was also on fresher tires, so I don’t think the win was up for grabs.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto says he will not analyze the incident until Ferrari returns to Maranello, rather than doing so in the immediate aftermath of the race.
“I’ve not reviewed the incident and I don’t want to do it today,” Binotto said. “I think that when doing things in the heat of the moment, you can come to the wrong conclusions. I heard both drivers, but we will meet again together with them to discuss what happened today and there will be time for the team to analyze all the video and the data.
“Whatever will be the judgment, more important today is that we are disappointed and sorry for the team. First and foremost, the two drivers should be sorry for the team. It is true it has been a very small crash with a big consequence, but still that sort of thing should not happen.”