Vettel and Leclerc to continue racing each other despite Brazil crash
Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc have been told they are free to continue racing each other despite their embarrassing crash in Brazil.
Vettel had been due to appear alongside his team-mate in an official press conference here in Abu Dhabi.
However, Leclerc was left to face the music alone after the FIA, Formula One’s governing body, gave the four-time world champion permission to skip his media duties following the arrival of his third child. Vettel, 32, is expected to be in Abu Dhabi on Friday morning ahead of practice.
Following their coming together at Interlagos a fortnight ago, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto indicated he would rein in his drivers.
But speaking at the Yas Marina Circuit, Leclerc, 22, said: “We will be able to race together. We will try to not let it happen again.
“Obviously Seb and myself are very competitive. We both want to win, but we need to find the right compromise because we are racing for the same team.
“We need to be less aggressive and give each other more space.”
Leclerc said he spoke with Binotto in Maranello, but a Ferrari spokesperson refused to clarify whether Vettel was in attendance – despite Binotto insisting in Brazil that his drivers would report to the team’s headquarters.
The flashpoint occurred on lap 66 of the 71-lap race as the pair battled for fourth place. Vettel appeared to cut across Leclerc on the run down to the fourth corner with both drivers sustaining damage to their machinery, forcing them out. In a series of heated radio messages, Vettel and Leclerc pointed the finger of blame at each other.
Yet, despite the accident, which capped a poor year for Ferrari, Leclerc said the drivers will not be fined or suspended if they crash again.
“There has been nothing said on that,” said Leclerc, who heads into the final round 19 points clear of his team-mate. “We called Seb and we tried to understand both of our situations.
“Seb should not have gone to the left and he knows it. I could have done a better job in avoiding him.
“Both of us have responsibilities, but the most important thing is that everything is now clear with Seb and we move forward.”
Lewis Hamilton will be looking to close out another impressive campaign with his 11th win of the season.
The six-time world champion was this week named on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
“It is an honour and a privilege to be mentioned among a lot of the great other British athletes,” said Hamilton, who won the prize in 2014 and finished runner-up to Geraint Thomas last year.
Asked if he will attend the ceremony in Aberdeen on December 15, Hamilton replied: “I don’t know when Sports Personality of the Year is but as soon as my work is done, I am done. It has been a long, long year. I switch off.”