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.