Australian F1 Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has apologised to his team after crashing into the back of teammate Max Verstappen in the closing laps of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, ending the race for both cars.
The pivotal moment in Baku ????
Ricciardo and Verstappen collide in dramatic fashion
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 29, 2018
Both drivers were reprimanded by race stewards for the collision, but escaped further punishment ahead of the Spanish GP.
An investigation into the collision concluded that Verstappen moved his line twice as Ricciardo tried to overtake as part of an ongoing duel between the pair for fourth position.
“Both drivers contributed to the collision. The driver [Verstappen] of car 33 made two moves, both of which were relatively minor,” the stewards said.
‘The driver [Ricciardo] of car 3 admitted he left his move to overtake on the left, too late.
“It was obvious to the stewards that although the incident had its origins in the moves by car 33, the driver of car 3 also contributed to the incident.”
But the collision left Red Bull without race points for the second time in three races.
A contrite Ricciardo said it was a chaotic race “and I guess we caused most of that”.
“I have watched a few replays and the only thing we can both say is sorry to the team… We tried to keep it clean and give each other room but we were racing hard and in the end it cost us,” he said.
“This was the worst case scenario and everyone is pretty heartbroken… I’m just sorry we are all in this situation when everyone has worked so hard to give us such a good car.”
Ricciardo posted the third fastest lap in the race and looked to have the edge on his teammate, but lost fourth place during a pit stop late in the race, setting the scene for the pending disaster.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 29, 2018
The race also delivered heartbreak for Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who was forced to retire with a puncture with just two laps to go as he led the race, giving teammate Lewis Hamilton victory and the championship lead.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) April 29, 2018
Team boss Christian Horner called it a frustrating race and hugely “disappointing”.
Initially, he said both drivers “were in the doghouse”, but moderated his comments in a subsequent statement.
“We allow our drivers to race wheel-to-wheel, which they have done to great effect during the last two years,” he said.
“Unfortunately, today has happened and there is no blame apportioned to either side. It is hugely frustrating for the team and the drivers have apologised. The most important thing is to learn from today and ensure that we avoid a repeat situation.”
He later told Sky Sports that the pair were highly paid and expected “to act with the team’s interests at heart not just their own”.
“They have been reminded that they are part of a team and they have a responsibility in the role they perform,” he said.
Verstappen also apologised.
This result is really disappointing for the team. It doesn’t matter who is to blame, it just shouldn’t have happened. So many people are working hard to improve our cars and they deserve an apology #AzerbaijanGP pic.twitter.com/yffvikdQxa
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) April 29, 2018
The crash means Red Bull has now had double DNFs in the first four races of 2018.
Verstappen has now collided with a rival in his last three races, having hit Sebastian Vettel in China, ending both their races, and Hamilton in Bahrain. Earlier in the race in Baku, Verstappen appeared to drift across on the corner after Ricciardo passed him, with their front wheels hitting.
Racing legend and Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda also weighed in on the Baku crash saying he’d “go home and cry” then bring in both drivers “and tell them how much less they will get paid for the damage they have done”.
But he laid most of the blame on the 20-year-old Dutchman.
“It is 70% Verstappen, and 30% Ricciardo. If you move on him all the time where can the poor guy go?” he said.
Ricciardo’s contract with Red Bull ends this year, and before Baku, the Australian said last week that while he’s yet to speak to Ferrari or Mercedes, he’d accept the challenge of racing beside Hamilton.
“I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge,” he said.