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Formula 1: Ricciardo, Verstappen apologize for contact

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A spirited battle for fourth between Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen created an intra-team controversy after they made contact and crashed together on Lap 40.

Ricciardo, who had previously passed Verstappen only to lose the spot during an exchange of pit stops, tried to slipstream his way around his teammate on the front straightaway, but when Verstappen weaved to block him, Ricciardo nosed into the back of Verstappen and both were sent crashing off the course in Turn 1.

Afterward, both drivers admitted fault and apologized to the team.

“For sure it was a chaotic race and I guess we caused most of that,” said a dejected Ricciardo afterward. “I have watched a few replays and the only thing we can both say is sorry to the team. This is the last thing we wanted. We want to be able to race and I’m thankful that the team let us race. We tried to keep it clean and give each other room but we were racing hard and in the end it cost us.”

Verstappen echoed the disappointment, noting that it cost them a lot of points – they were running fourth and fifth at the time.

“Today was just really disappointing for the team and we lost many points unnecessarily. I don’t think we need to speak about fault because at the end of the day we are racing for a team and representing a lot of people, so when this happens it is not good for both of us,” he explained.

Verstappen continued, “The tow was very strong and our speed was very similar, so we were then always very close to each other. Before the accident it was hard racing but fair I think and we gave each other space, we had a little brush with the wheels but I think in racing that can happen, but what happened afterwards is not good. We will learn from this and have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Team principal Christian Horner did not put on blame on either driver specifically, but did emphasize the importance of ensuring it doesn’t happen again.

“Obviously, for the team it is hugely disappointing. We allow our drivers to race wheel-to-wheel, which they have done to great effect during the last two years. Unfortunately, today has happened and there is no blame apportioned to either side. It is hugely frustrating for the team and the drivers have apologized. The most important thing is to learn from today and ensure that we avoid a repeat situation.”

Both drivers received reprimands for their roles in the incident.

Red Bull sits third in the constructor’s championship after four races, with Ricciardo currently leading Verstappen in the driver’s championship – Ricciardo is fifth with 37 points, while Verstappen is eighth with 18 points.

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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).