Days after their terrifying final-lap crash in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, the fall-out between Felipe Massa and Sergio Pérez shows little sign of abating, although at least it’s providing the press with a stoush different to the Hamilton-Rosberg brouhaha that has been bubbling on since the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Second-placed Pérez had looked a contender to claim Force India’s first victory in the final laps, only to be struck by brake and electrical problems that ultimately saw him overtaken by eventual race-winner Daniel Ricciardo, followed by Sebastian on the final lap.
Having lost momentum exiting the final chicane on the 70th and last tour of the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve, Pérez was then set upon by Massa, whose Williams was blessed with considerably newer rubber.
Massa had himself made a very poor job of trying to be a late-race contender for victory. The Brazilian was desperate to pick up another place and seized his chance on the start/finish straight, however the pair tangled at speed, pitching both into the barriers and out of the race with very damaged cars.
The potential consequences of the accident don’t bear thinking about, but the important thing was that both – aside from battered pride and machinery – were unhurt.
Predictably, each blamed the other for the accident, but ultimately the FIA Stewards – with former racing driver Derek Daly as the Drivers’ Representative this weekend – ruled against Pérez, hitting the Mexican with a five-place grid penalty for the next Grand Prix in Austria.
Unfortunately the dispute didn’t end there.
The Force India team predictably disputed the decision, taking to Twitter to release side-by-side onboard images from Massa and Pérez’s cars taken split seconds before the crash that suggested Massa was turning right into Pérez.
That flew in the face of the Stewards’ ruling, which was that Pérez had veered off his racing line and into Massa’s path, which this excellent overhead graphic would certainly support.
In turn Massa’s former engineer and Williams’ new Head of Performance Engineering, Rob Smedley, weighed in by arguing that Force India was reckless in allowing Pérez to continue racing while his car had a seemingly terminal issue.
“I think from about Lap 67 [of 70] – that’s when we got the [team radio] transcript but it may have been broadcast earlier – they were talking about having no rear brakes,” Smedley said in an open media call after the race.
“‘I’ve got no rear brakes was [Perez’s] comment. They said: ‘If you can carry on, carry on. But if you can’t, pit’.
“That it is fairly f*****g terminal. Why you leave a car out when you’ve got that sort of problem is beyond me.”
Pérez was quick to hit back.
“If someone thinks you can keep two Red Bulls behind for as long as we did with so-called ‘terminal’ problems, they are clearly misguided,” he retorted.
It looks like this might be a ‘handbags at dawn’ discussion that could go on for some time…
Image via XPB Images
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