Canadian duo Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll got caught up in a bizarre collision that caused a red flag towards the end of Q1 in Melbourne.
As drivers were preparing for their final qualifying attempts at the Australian Grand Prix, Latifi went spinning into the barrier after making contact with Stroll, causing major damage to the Williams.
It was the latest in a string of accidents for Latifi, who crashed – with major World Championship repercussions – in last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale, as well as both qualifying and the race in Saudi Arabia last time out.
While the team looked to have given up hope of getting Vettel on track for qualifying at Albert Park, the team owner’s son was sent out in time for one shot at getting through to Q2.
Stroll passed Latifi, who had briefly pulled into a run-off area at slow speed. After the next corner, Latifi picked up the pace and darted down the inside of Stroll who, clearly unaware, jinked to the right to make room for Zhou Guanyu’s oncoming Alfa Romeo and the Williams and Aston Martin made contact.
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Latifi said over the team radio: “What was that. What was he doing?! Not looking in his mirrors. The car is destroyed.”
After Q1, he told Sky Sports: “For me it’s quite clear, I’ve just seen the video. I just tried to go back by him to prepare my out-lap and it seemed like he just turned in to me once I was alongside him. Not much more to say besides that.
“I let him through because he was pushing to open the lap, or so I was told, then I saw he had aborted the lap and I wanted to carry on with my own preparation lap. There was a big gap and once I got past him, for whatever reason he decided to turn.”
Stroll’s team radio response was: “Latifi, man, what the f*ck was he doing, he’s just f*cking hit me man!”
With Stroll having to park up his AMR22 by the side of the track, his qualifying was done and barring any penalties, he and Latifi will line up on the back row of the grid for the race.
Ironically, the incident and the red flag gave Aston Martin the opportunity to put the finishing touches to repairing Vettel’s car, with the German able to have one crack at getting into Q2.
It did not yield the desired reward though, with the four-time former World Champion going 18th quickest.
“Thanks for getting the car out, hell of a job there,” said Vettel over the team radio, with Latifi’s team-mate Alex Albon and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen the other drivers to exit at the initial hurdle.