Alfa Romeo boss Fred Vasseur felt “very sorry” for Antonio Giovinazzi after strategy issues in Mexico, but the talk of sabotage hurt.
Giovinazzi enjoyed a fantastic opening lap as he rose from P11 to P6, aided by contact between Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo, presenting the opportunity for a first points finish since Monaco.
His hopes though were undone by Alfa Romeo’s strategy department, after he emerged from his pit stop on hard tyres and behind the Ricciardo/Bottas duel which raged on for most of the race.
Crossing the line P11, Giovinazzi was furious with his team at a time where his Formula 1 future is very much in doubt, sarcastically saying “hey guys thanks for the great strategy”.
It was a reaction that surprised Alfa Romeo team boss Vasseur.
“For sure, when you’re P6 and you finish P11, it’s clear that the strategy was not perfect,” said Vasseur when speaking to Sky Italia.
“But we chose that strategy with the information we had at the pit wall at that moment. I agreed with the decision because it seemed a good way to come back on track behind Ricciardo. But Ricciardo blocked Antonio and our race was over.
“I was surprised by his reaction, we discussed with Antonio to explain the reasons, which is the most important thing, but for sure it’s a pity for Antonio because he started well and a pity for the team because we were P6 and P8 and we were catching up to Williams in the standings. It was a mistake.”
Sono il classico ragazzo che cerca sempre il lato positivo delle cose. Oggi è impossibile.
Sometimes it’s simple to look at the bright side, sometimes it’s hard. Today it’s impossible.#MexicoGP #AG99🐝 #F1 pic.twitter.com/2lN3tgn6P6
— Antonio Giovinazzi (@Anto_Giovinazzi) November 7, 2021
Giovinazzi did not even rule out sabotage with the Italian now expected to depart Alfa Romeo after the 2021 campaign.
But this way of thinking upsets Vasseur, who made it clear that the team would never do such a thing to Giovinazzi or team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
“I feel very sorry for Antonio and for what happened to him last week, but I think some of his comments were a bit too harsh,” said Vasseur.
“We’re five hundred people that work in the team for Antonio and Kimi and you can’t think the team does something on purpose against the drivers.
“I was very upset by this, because we pushed a lot for Antonio in the last seasons and we’re the ones that gave Antonio the chance to drive with us. And imagining we did something on purpose, he’s been very harsh with me, with the team, very ungenerous with the company and the sponsors.
“We have to understand we’re in this together with Antonio, we’re pushing as much as possible, we did that for three seasons to achieve good results. When we do well we do it together, when we make a mistake, it’s a mistake we make together, it’s not a mistake where you have to point the finger at somebody.
“We discussed clearly with Antonio, I think everything has been clarified between us.”
Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla