May 10, 2018 / 4:36 PM / 15 days ago

Formula One: Colliding Red Bulls free to race but face close scrutiny

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Formula One team mates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will remain free to race each other despite their Azerbaijan Grand Prix collision — but both expect Red Bull to step in if the situation looks like overheating in future.

Formula One - F1 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan - April 26, 2018 Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull during a press conference ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Speaking to reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Australian and his 20-year-old Dutch team mate said there had been a lot of discussion between all parties back at the factory.

“I think if it got to that point again where there’s banging wheels and stuff, especially if the car’s faster behind, then you’d probably expect at some point they’d go, ‘Let’s swap cars and release one of them’,” said Ricciardo.

“There’s no guarantee but that was one thing we certainly talked about.”

Ricciardo smashed into the back of Verstappen’s car while attempting to pass in the race two weeks ago. Both retired on the spot.

They had banged wheels before then and the eventual accident came as little surprise.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner refused to blame one driver over the other at the time and said both were “in the doghouse”.

Verstappen said relations between the drivers, who get on well, remained good.

“We have a lot of respect for each other and we realise that it was a mistake. There are no bad feelings at all,” said the Dutchman, who said they would probably leave “two or three millimetres” more margin in future.

Asked about so-called team orders being applied, Verstappen — who is seen as the team’s future and, unlike Ricciardo, has a long-term contract — indicated that would depend on the particular circumstances.

“Maybe if it’s like Baku again, I think at one point the team will say, ‘OK, maybe calm down a bit and just follow each other the last few laps’. I don’t know,” he said.

“But I think in general they still trust us and we also understand we don’t want that to happen again.”

ACCUMULATION OF EVENTS

Ricciardo, a winner in China last month, said it was not just about the drivers, however.

“Obviously we are the drivers; we created, in the end, the incident. But it was an accumulation of events and it was important to address all areas,” he said.

“I don’t think it was just us in that moment. There was a build-up and maybe a way that we could have responded better, whether it was releasing a car or something. A lot of things we talked about.”

Both drivers were reprimanded by stewards after the race and Ricciardo accepted that.

“I don’t feel guilty but I understand what they needed to do. In the end I have no problem with that,” he said.

Formula One - F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai, China - April 12, 2018 - Red Bull Formula One driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands attends a press conference at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix. REUTERS/Aly Song

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neville Dalton

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