Ferrari hold 'clear the air' talks after drivers crash in Brazil

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel (right) appeared to change his racing line as he passed team-mate Charles Leclerc in Brazil

Ferrari say they have "cleared the air" following the crash between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The drivers have had conversations with team boss Mattia Binotto about the incident and other matters.

A spokesperson said: "Since last Sunday, Mattia and the drivers have spoken every day, as they would normally do anyway."

"There was no official summit nor video conference," they added.

"The air is now fully cleared and we are focusing on Abu Dhabi."

The 2019 Formula 1 season finishes at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina track on 1 December.

Ferrari would not elaborate on what had been discussed or the details of any agreement about how the two should race together in the future - or even whether they would be allowed to.

Earlier this week, Ferrari chairman John Elkann said he was "very angry" about the incident.

Elkann was speaking at an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Exor, a holding company with investments in a number of companies, including Fiat and Ferrari.

He said: "What happened made us understand how important Ferrari is.

"The drivers, however good they are, mustn't forget they are Ferrari drivers. Team work counts. The only thing that counts is that Ferrari wins.

"It has been an extraordinary season for the poles, but they have not been converted into victories."

That is a reference to the fact that Ferrari have taken nine pole positions in 20 races so far this year - seven for Leclerc and one for Vettel - while they have won only three grands prix.

Ferrari's season has been characterised by an ongoing tussle for supremacy between the drivers.

German driver Vettel, a four-time world champion, started the season with primacy in the team following the recruitment of Leclerc, who is in only his second season in F1.

But the Monegasque has had a more convincing season and, with one race remaining, is ahead of Vettel in terms of championship points, wins, pole positions and on their qualifying head-to-head and looks set to stay that way.

As their battle has intensified, both drivers have ignored team orders at various points in the season.

That leaves Binotto with a difficult decision as to how to handle them next year.

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc is in his second season in F1

After the race in Brazil, Binotto described the crash, which happened as Vettel changed his line while trying to pass Leclerc and made contact with his team-mate, as "silly" but declined to apportion blame.

He said that the team would "analyse all the video and data" with the drivers once the initial heat of the incident had died down.

"They were free to fight," he said. "They knew that. (We) let them race because we had secured second in the constructors' championship and they were somehow battling for their own position in the drivers' championship.

"'Free to fight' doesn't mean to do silly actions, especially between the two team-mates and this for me was simply a silly action."

Binotto said the key issue was not to apportion blame but to ensure the drivers "recognised what has been the actions and mistakes".

Meanwhile, Ferrari have shrugged off the importance of governing body the FIA inspecting their engine after the Brazil race.

The FIA has issued two rule clarifications governing engines in recent weeks, in the context of suspicions from Ferrari's rivals as to the size of their performance advantage on the straights.

Ferrari said the FIA "had done a routine check, as they do many other times. Just usual procedure".

The FIA said that after Brazil they had looked at several cars' fuel-system components as part of systematic checking across the board throughout the season and not linked specifically to anything beyond that.

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