Daniel Ricciardo, the last man to clash with Sebastian Vettel, has defended his former team-mate, saying he isn’t being “erratic” in his driving.
This year’s championship has been dogged, and likely will be decided, by mistakes from Vettel.
The Ferrari driver had an error-strewn second half of the campaign, starting with a crash while leading the German GP and, most recently, tagging Ricciardo on the opening lap of the United States GP.
But while many have jumped on the bandwagon and criticised the driver, his former Red Bull team-mate has defended him.
Ricciardo told Autosport that he feels Vettel is “slightly hesitant” after his mistakes.
He added: “That could maybe create that little bit of misjudgement, even kind of subconsciously if you don’t even know it.
“If you’re playing catch: you drop 10 in a row, probably by the 11th one you’re like ‘alright don’t drop it, don’t drop it’. So it could be a similar thing.
“To be honest I looked at Seb’s onboard and I didn’t actually see anything, I didn’t think he went in hot, I didn’t think he looked erratic.
“So, in a way I’ll defend him – in terms of I didn’t see anything out of character.
“For sure it’s happened a few times now but that one for me didn’t look out of character.
“It could be that [subconscious worry], as an explanation, but I don’t want to tell him how to drive.”
Meanwhile double World Champion Fernando Alonso says Vettel’s incidents have been more “coincidence” than “mistakes” given the spotlight that is on the championship contenders.
“I saw a lot of graphs where Sebastian is three milliseconds [faster] in this straight, Hamilton is two milliseconds on braking, four milliseconds mid-corner,” said the McLaren driver.
“This kinds of analysis brings a lot of attention and a lot of repercussion on any little issue, but I think has been a coincidence more than a pure mistakes.”