‘Out of his depth’: F1 bad boy slammed
Australian F1 star Daniel Ricciardo finished just 1.2 seconds off the podium at the British Grand Prix, but it was his tangle with Haas' Romain Grosjean that had the world talking.
After holding Ricciardo off for a long time having not taken a free pit stop after two early crashes, Grosjean held his position in the top 10 for plenty of time throughout the race with some tactics that many, including his fellow drivers, frowned on.
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Grosjean was twice looked at during the race for late moves as the faster drivers tried to overtake - once against McLaren's Carlos Sainz and once against Ricciardo.
In the early incident with Sainz, the McLaren driver said over team radio: "He changed direction. Dangerous driving. Oh my god."
But the stewards awarded just a black and white flag, which is essentially a warning for unsportsmanlike behaviour and can lead to a black flag of disqualification for further infringements.
Grosjean was furious with the decision, even though it didn't cost him anything, firing back over team radio: "Are you kidding me? I left half the track".
With Ricciardo stuck behind Grosjean for some time, the Frenchman then swerved at the Aussie as well.
Ricciardo said on team radio: "Yup, yeah, that was sketchy" as he drove past.
Grosjean pulls another late defensive swerve on Ricciardo this time! A shame to see him regress to doing some of the driving he's been memed for in the past. #BritishGP https://t.co/nFOfRf1kQM pic.twitter.com/GaZOhdlWYq— iGP Manager (@iGPManager) August 2, 2020
Ricciardo laughed off the incident post-race with Grosjean just getting a warning.
Ultimately, Grosjean finished 16th in the race that ended in chaos when Sainz and Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton all had tyre delamination in the final laps of a crazy race.
But the Frenchman, who is also the Grand Prix Drivers' Association director, dismissed Ricciardo's assessment that his move was "sketchy", saying "I don't care" when asked.
"I haven't seen the footage," Grosjean told Channel 4.
"But I felt like I always left more than a car's width with the track edge which I think is in the rules unless they have changed.
"We complained about Max Verstappen for years for moving under braking, it was kind of fun and there was no rules against it so I thought I could use a bit of defending today and try to make my car wide. We don't have many occasions to shine so we tried the best we can."
The Verstappen incidents he brought up were in the 2016 season when the Dutchman first stepped up into the F1 and was criticised for moving under braking, which led to a crackdown.
But former Australian Red Bull star Mark Webber teed off on the Haas driver, saying the Frenchman "is borderline out of his depth in Formula 1".
"I don't think he understands the rules of engagement," he told Channel 4's F1 coverage.
"He is moving around very late in defending. He is saying he is leaving a car's width on the inside, which technically he is, but this weaving in the middle of the road at high speed … he has got to be even further across to show his intention earlier.
"I think Grosjean has a gross misunderstanding of what current Grand Prix racing is all about in terms of wheel-to-wheel combat. He's mentioned how Max Verstappen was in the past, and that is in the past, we have moved on.
"He's the chairman of the GPDA. He should know the rules."
British 13-time Grand Prix winner David Coulthard backed Webber's attack, calling Grosjean "a repeat offender".
"It's frustrating because there are other guys out there who can pull off manoeuvres and race hard without any of the black and white flags," Coulthard said.
"The stewards are on to Romain. They are not just throwing those flags out willy nilly and that is the first black and white flag we have seen in quite some time."
Sky Sports' Martin Brundle also took aim: "He's moved at least a car's length across the track.
"You can't race people who move in the braking zone. Once you get into the braking zone, which they were approaching, you've got to trust the guy in front of you."
Ricciardo also added that if a move like that goes wrong, it could lead to disaster for both drivers.
"I didn't want to go in and educate him because, as I said, he should know by now what he's doing but, I just said, look it's not only me that is in danger, obviously with a late move and a reaction, but it's maybe I break my front wing, but likely that you get a puncture as well. So it's really for both of us in that scenario," Ricciardo said of the stewards meeting.
"I just said, if you time it and just move a little earlier then I'd probably go to the outside and you actually probably have a better chance of defence as well. But it's I think it's all stuff he knew. I think when he saw the video, he realised it was a little bit late, but I didn't feel the need to go back and forth."
Reportedly the response to the swerving will be further discussed by drivers ahead of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix again at Silverstone next weekend.
Originally published as 'Out of his depth': F1 bad boy slammed