Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Sao Paulo — 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 Sunday, 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 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 judgment, 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."

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 teammates 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.” 

AFP