Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi are under investigation after the pair collided in the final minutes of the first qualifying session.
The collision occured with just over two minutes left in the session as the pair attempted to set their final laps. Stroll had just overtaken Latifi approaching turn five when the Williams driver attempted to repass him following the corner and the pair made contact.
The impact ripped the left-rear wheel off Latifi’s Williams and sent him spinning into the barriers. Stroll was told to stop his car as he headed back to the pits.
Latifi had been on a slow-down lap at the time of the collision. He had aborted his previous run shortly before the end of the lap. “I’m just backing off,” he explained on the radio, “I was going to kill the tyres, I wasn’t going to improve.”
As he passed through the turns three and four complex Latifi’s race engineer Gaetan Jego told him: “Watch out for Stroll within one [second].”
“He backed off,” Latifi reported as he slowed at the exit of turn four and the Aston Martin came by. “Okay you can pick up then if you want,” replied Jego.
But as Latifi tried to pass Stroll on the right the Aston Martin driver moved towards him, triggering the collision.
“I don’t understand what he was doing, he wasn’t looking in his mirrors,” Latifi exclaimed. “I’m fine, the fucking car’s destroyed,” he added.
Stroll was only on his second lap of the session having made a late start to qualifying. His mechanics were still completing repairs to his car following his crash in practice as the session began.
Before he began his first flying lap of the session his race engineer Ben Michell advised him he did have time to back off and start another lap if needed.
“You have time for an abort-push, you can abort-push, but we’re happy to push on first lap,” said Michell.
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As the lap began Michell realised Stroll was about to catch Latifi and others, and they would be better off waiting to run at the end.
“Okay Lance we’ve got big traffic if you want to abort and go again, we can do that,” he said. “Too much traffic, abort, cool and we’ll go again.”
As Stroll passed Latifi, he was told the other drivers around him were also not on flying laps. “You’re in phase with everybody,” said Michell. “So get ahead of Latifi, you’ve got Russell ahead of you now, eight seconds, so you’re in a good gap, hold this position on track.”
However as Michell was explaining this, Stroll and Latifi made contact. “Unbelievable, man, I don’t fucking understand what he was doing,” said Stroll.
Afterwards Latifi blamed his rival for the crash. “For me, it’s quite clear, I’ve just seen the video,” he said, “I was just trying to go back by to prepare my out-lap and it seems like he just turned into me once I was alongside him.”
Latifi confirmed he was trying to regain his position in the queue from Stroll when they collided. “I let him through because he was pushing to open the lap, so I was told,” he said. “Then I saw he aborted the lap, so I wanted to get carried on with my own preparation lap.
“So I went back by him, obviously there was a big gap. And once I kind of got past them for whatever reason, he decided to turn. So it’s clear for me on the video, there’s not much more to say.”
Stroll said he was surprised by Latifi’s sudden move to pass him on his right approaching turn six.
“He went all of a sudden, very suddenly,” said Stroll. “It falls to the right so the car kind of dips to the inside as the track falls away there. I think the timing was just terrible, as he was accelerating the track was falling to the right for me and that’s where we made contact.”
Image: F1 via Twitter
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