Pierre Gasly says he refused Toro Rosso’s request to let teammate Brendon Hartley pass him during the Brazilian Grand Prix because they were not racing for points.
Late in the race, Hartley closed in on 11th-placed Gasly having benefited from a different strategy and a later pit stop for fresh tyres. Hartley was being stalked closely by the Renault of Carlos Sainz and on several occasions in the final 10 laps asked the team for a position swap so he could get out of the danger zone.
Hartley was heard on the radio getting increasingly frustrated at Gasly not moving aside, saying at one point: “Is he going to let me by? Mate, what the f— is going on?”
When Hartley’s engineer told him to get closer, the New Zealander replied: “Mate, I’m right up his f—ing arse!”
On the radio channel of the other Toro Rosso, Gasly said: “It’s not like we’re fighting for the win!”
Hartley eventually passed Gasly, although both disagreed about whether this had been on merit or whether the Frenchman had finally let him through. Hartley finished 11th, while Gasly dropped behind Sainz before the finish.
Explaining his reluctance to obey Toro Rosso’s order, Gasly said: “Looking in the end, we finished P13.
“I had to do it two laps to the end because I was running out of fuel and I didn’t have any fuel left for the end of the race. I was just cruising on the last two laps.
“I just think if you are in position, you should race, plus he was on new super-soft tyres, I was dying with my medium [tyres], so I just told them if he’s that much faster then he can overtake me, but for some reason I don’t know, he didn’t do it for 10 laps. Then after we were in such critical situation with the fuel that in the end I did it two laps to go.”
When asked what he thought Red Bull chief Helmut Marko would think, ahead of his step up to that team next season, Gasly said: “Well I think it’s not the first time it happened, and I think different if you’re in the top 10, there is something to play for.
“Today there wasn’t anything to play for P11, P12, P13. At the end I’m a racing driver, I’m here to race, that’s what I want and that’s what I like. That’s my perception of motorsport and how it should be … That’s how I am. At the end of the day I’m a racing driver, I’m here to race, I’m not here to let the guy past, especially in this kind of situation.”
Hartley did not elaborate too much in his post-race media session, although he did point out he has happily played the team game at other races in 2018.
“When I’ve been asked to let by, I do it, and I would have adjusted my race accordingly,” Hartley said. “If we’re told to race, I’ll happily do it, but if we’re told to do otherwise…
“Anyway, I’m happy with my race, and in the end I made the overtake fair and square. Just annoying not to score a point.”
When asked if he thought he could have scored a point had he got past Gasly earlier, he said: “No, no, there’s always a chance of someone retiring.”
Hartley’s future beyond 2018 remains uncertain. Toro Rosso has confirmed Daniil Kvyat to one of its seats but is yet to make a decision on whether Hartley will be his teammate.