Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley made sure to apologise to his race engineer after the Formula 1 Brazil GP for swearing when the team were performing a driver swap.
Hartley started the Brazil GP on the medium compound – the only one to do so and ran until Lap 49 on the same tyre, while teammate Pierre Gasly started on the used supersoft compound from the Q2 session.
The Frenchman steadied his position inside the Top 10 after losing out to Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in the opening stages but then dropped out of the points position when he was overtaken by Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Gasly hovered around the Top 10 position but did not have enough pace to challenge the cars ahead. At the same time, Hartley, on a different strategy ran outside the Top 10 as well but had better pace especially towards the end of the race.
The Kiwi switched to a fresh set of supersoft on Lap 49 whereas Gasly had taken up the medium compound on Lap 26. The two found themselves in 11th and 12th respectively with Renault’s Carlos Sainz just behind them.
Hartley was clearly the faster car on the fresher tyre and the team understood so as well. They wanted to perform a driver swap in Turn 4 in the last 10 laps as the back and forth continued on the radio for several laps.
The Kiwi wanted to get the pass – whether through swap or be allowed to attack, while Gasly was adamant that Hartley should overtake him – if he was quicker enough – rather than he allows him to pass despite the threat of Sainz.
The tense moments led Hartley to swear ‘f**k’ on the radio few times on his engineer Pierre Hamelin for which the Kiwi duly apologised after the race, with Hamelin asking him to forget the incident and move on.
Gasly’s fuel issues meant he had no choice but to bail out in the end as Hartley finished 11th with Sainz also going through to 12th as the Frenchman ended up 13th. Post-race, Gasly kept the stance he had on the radio.
He defended himself stating that he would have let by Hartley if they were fighting for a points position but it was for 11th in the end which didn’t bring anything on the table and so he stood ground and asked the team to tell the Kiwi to attack and pass.
Hartley, on the other hand, wasn’t sure what was going on as he admitted after the race. The miss-communication left him annoyed as he didn’t know whether to attack or if he will be let go by Gasly as decided to do in Turn 4.
“That was a really good race for me, it’s annoying you don’t get to score points as a reward, but there weren’t any retirements at the front to capitalise on,” said Hartley. “I started on the harder compound so it was a bit tricky for me during the first few laps.
“But still I had a strong start and made some good overtakes. To make our race work, I knew I would have to keep the tyres alive as long as possible on the first stint, I had great feedback from the pit wall and the strategy worked well.
“I felt this was one of the best performances of my F1 career but without the reward of points. The team will work hard over the next weeks to understand why we had such good race pace in Mexico, but struggled two weeks later here in Brazil.”
Full radio transcription:
Lap 61, Hartley: “OK, I am pretty close to Gasly guys”. Engineer: “We are looking at it, standby”. Hartley: “If I don’t get by, I’ll get passed by Sainz”.
Lap 64, Engineer: “Driver swap, driver swap at Turn 4. Hartley: “Yeah, but he didn’t do it. Whats going on guys?” Engineer: “Turn 4, driver swap, Turn 4”.
Lap 65, Engineer: “Driver swap, Turn 4, now we need to do it. Stay in front of Sainz”. Gasly: “I can’t. They are ‘f*****g’ too close.”
Lap 68, Hartley: “Mate, is he let me get by? Whats the f**k going on? Mate, he’s holding me up so much”. Engineer: “Use anti-deploy middle sector, use anti-deploy middle sector. Get close to him”. Hartley: “Mate, I am driving for f**k….”
Lap 69, Engineer: “You have to leave Hartley by as soon as possible”. Gasly: “Mate, it is not like that, can you explain me why we cannot race? It is not like…..he can overtake me if he is faster than me. I am on medium tyres, he is on supersofts, so he can’t overtake me, my tyres are completely damaged”. Hartley: “So, whats happening guys? I am not attacking him? He says he is letting me by? F**k, he just doesn’t do it. Mate, I am so close to him, come on”. Engineer: “We are asking for Turn 4 again, we are asking for driver swap, Turn 4”.
Post-race, Hartley: “Sorry about the language on the radio but the thing is…” Engineer: That’s OK, leave it behind you, no worries”. Hartley: “Otherwise, if he said he would race, I would have attacked, but yeah”. Engineer: “Turn the car off, leave it behind you”.