Race stewards have decided that the incident at the start of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix involving Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne was a racing incident.
The clash triggered a safety car. The Haas and McLaren were both too badly damaged to continue the race.
The stewards heard from Magnussen and Vandoorne after the race. They concluded that no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident.
The incident had occurred on the first lap at the exit of turn 2, when Magnussen and Vandoorne were side-by-side with Ricciardo.
Magnussen moved to the left hand side of the track and made contact with Vandoorne. That led in turn to a chain reaction that spun the Red Bull.
“I really need to study the replay,” said Magnussen. “From my side, we were three-wide through the corner. There was contact with Vandoorne who then had contact with Ricciardo.
“If I’d realized earlier that Ricciardo was on the outside of Vandoorne, then perhaps I’d have given more room. But by the time I saw Ricciardo it was too late. I’d already carried the speed.”
The Haas suffered broken suspension from the contact. The McLaren was also forced to retire.
“I got sandwiched by Magnussen and Ricciardo,” reported Vandoorne. “There was nowhere to go. An unfortunate end to my race. From my perspective, there was nowhere I could have gone to avoid the incident.”
“Stoffel was incredibly unlucky,” added McLaren racing director Eric Boullier. “He’d made a great start, was making progress, then got side-swiped by Kevin Magnussen at the exit of Turn Two. It was a pointless collision, and Stoffel was entirely the victim.”
Of the three cars involved, Ricciardo alone was able to pick up the pieces and continue. He went on to finish the race in sixth place.
“The start is an opportunity to make up a big chunk of positions. As I was nearly at the back I had to try something,” the Australian explained.
“It was quite tight and I saw a space on the outside. I tried to get as much room as I could, but I knew there were two cars on the inside.
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“There was always a risk they would have contact and then come into me. I think that’s what happened but I don’t regret trying,” he said.
“Fortunately the car didn’t suffer any damage. We just changed the tyres and then I could get on with the race and make some good overtakes, and it was a good race.”
Magnussen’s team mate Romain Grosjean did not get off so likely for his separate first lap incident.
He ran wide into the Force India of Esteban Ocon in turn 6 as the Force India was attempting to pass him on the outside. The Frenchman was handed a ten second penalty for the collision, which put Ocon out of the race.
“The only thing I can say about the opening lap is that I got massively hit in turn 1,” he said. “I believe I had a puncture on the rear left. I got to turn six and lost the car, and I think it was just the puncture.
“Getting a penalty on top of that – I’m not super happy with it. I want to see the footage.”
Ocon was equally unhappy about the incident. It’s the first time in his Formula 1 career than he’s failed to finish a race.
“There was nothing I could do. “Romain lost the car in turn six and crashed into me. He made a mistake and I suffered from it. My front wheel rim was damaged so I couldn’t even drive back to the pits.
“I’m not happy to retire from the race,” he added. “It’s a shame because it has been three years since my last retirement in single-seaters [in 2014].”
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