SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo both emerged angry from a wet and incident-strewn qualifying session at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Vettel pointed the finger at Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg for slowing him down after the world champion came only five hundredths of a second behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.
“Nico couldn’t see much in his mirrors I guess,” Vettel said. “I was angry at the time, at that moment, because I turned into turn 12 not knowing where to turn because I could not see anything.”
However, Rosberg insisted it was a case of mistaken identity.
“I don’t think that was me,” Rosberg said. “I never had anybody behind me.”
The pair continued their discussion at the post-qualifying press conference, so much so that Lewis Hamilton interrupted his answer to a question.
“Hey guys, I can’t even hear myself talk,” Hamilton said.
Ricciardo was even more aggrieved at Williams driver Valtteri Bottas after the pair almost collided at the final corner when the Australian was trying to complete a flying lap and the Finn was about to embark on his. The incident prompted a post-session visit to the stewards for both drivers, and Bottas was hit with a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race, demoting him to 18th on the grid.
Ricciardo claimed it was not the first time that Bottas had got in his way.
“We raced each other a lot in the junior categories and I thought we had a lot of respect for each other, but it’s a little difficult how many times he’s done that now, so I’ll go have a word with him,” Ricciardo said.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and 19-year-old Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat were also called before stewards after their collision caused a red flag during the second qualifying session due to debris on the track.
The young Russian was trying to pass the Spaniard on the inside but Alonso, not seeing the Russian in the spray from the wet track, turned in and the pair came together, snapping the Ferrari’s left-front suspension and damaging the Toro Rosso’s wing.
“I didn’t see him coming,” Alonso said. “It was a little bit of an aggressive move on the out lap with that sort of visibility.”
Kvyat plead his innocence on the way to the stewards’ hearing which decided on no further action.
“How can I get punished? I don’t think so,” Kvyat said. “There was a lot of spray, I came in on the inside line and he didn’t see me.”