By Marcelo Teixeira
SAOPAULO (Reuters) – Ferrari reminded Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc of their responsibilities to the team after they put each other out of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the Formula One season.
The collision between the pair, one a young charger and the other a four times world champion, who have been battling for supremacy this season, provided a major talking point at Interlagos.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said he was disappointed.
“I feel sorry for the team, I think the drivers need to feel sorry for the team,” he said.
With second place in the constructors’ championship secure, Ferrari had told their drivers they were free to fight for their own positions, but with some stipulations.
“Free to fight, but they know that silly mistakes are something we should avoid for the team itself,” said Binotto, who refrained from casting judgement before a thorough analysis back in Maranello.
“At the end I think both of them got a small percentage of responsibility,” said the boss, who felt a podium had been missed.
“They know that silly mistakes are still silly mistakes. What happened today is a shame for the team.”
Leclerc, on fresher tyres, passed Vettel for fourth place towards the end of the race but the German came back at him on the outside.
What looked like a light contact ended with both cars suffering race-ending damage, Leclerc’s front right suspension breaking while Vettel suffered a rear puncture. Both retired with the safety car then deployed.
Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion who is now a pundit for Sky Sports television, said he would give both a talking to in Binotto’s shoes.
“I think you have to sit them both down and say, ‘Listen guys, you can’t just behave like kids with the team like this. You have a responsibility, both of you, to the team’,” said the Briton, who felt Vettel should take more of the blame.
Both drivers were summoned to stewards post-race, with no further action taken.
Leclerc, 22, said he had spoken to Binotto immediately after the race but not to Vettel.
“I’m pretty sure we are mature enough to put that behind us,” he added of the incident. “At the end we both of us feel extremely sorry for the team.”
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)