The bitter row sparked by the contentious collision between Toyota star Jarno Trulli and Force India F1 ace Adrian Sutil on the opening lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos just under a fortnight ago has spilled over into the paddock at the Yas Marina Circuit, ahead of this weekend's inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Trulli and Sutil blamed each other after the pair came to grief just moments into the race in São Paulo – and subsequently very nearly came to blows too, as the evidently livid Italian gesticulated his displeasure and grabbed his rival aggressively by the overalls, for which he was handed down a £6,000 fine and official reprimand by unimpressed governing body the FIA.
The controversial incident – prompted by Trulli spinning directly across Sutil's path at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace after putting a wheel onto the kerb in an audacious attempt to get past, sending both cars off-track in opposing directions and leading to Renault's Fernando Alonso getting caught up and collected as an innocent victim – might have occurred a full eleven days ago, but tempers were still clearly frayed as the travelling circus arrived in the United Arab Emirates, with the insults and lively war of words continuing apace.
When asked about the coming-together during Thursday's FIA press conference in Abu Dhabi, it quickly emerged that the waters had anything but calmed over the interceding period, as the following exchange clearly shows:
“Obviously it was very disappointing to end the race like that, especially on the first lap. I had every reason to be extremely furious. I've got all the evidence to show I was there and was next to him, and tomorrow we are going to discuss it.”
“There's nothing to discuss; it was quite an obvious incident. In the end it was very disappointing for me, even more because I was the one who was just driving, and he lost control of his car and crashed into my back. It's not my problem – it's his problem. I don't know why he's freaking out like that to be honest.”
“I don't know if you're blind, but I can clearly show you my front wing is next to your front wing.”
Trulli then produced photographs to support his argument.
“But you're trying to overtake me around the outside on the kerb. There was not a problem.”
“So you mean…you didn't move there…”
“No, you were just not going off the power. The same happened in Barcelona where you lost control again and crashed again into a Force India car (Sutil). You have to sometimes respect the limits of the car. If you've nowhere to go, you have to back off. That's how racing is. I don't know how long you want to learn this.”
“In Barcelona I spun and he hit me because he cut the kerb, cut the circuit completely, and he didn't slow down.”
“I didn't hit you; you hit me. I don't know what the problem is; maybe your eyes are a problem.”
“I was furious because I said 'didn't you see me?' I mean, I was next to him and he kept pushing me outside until I was obviously on the kerb. I couldn't believe…”
“It's not a problem to be on the kerb. Where's the problem?”
“Yeah, no problem! As long as we know the rules...”
“I know the rules.”
Alonso was subsequently asked for his interpretation of the incident, to which the former double F1 World Champion wryly remarked: “I saw everything more-or-less, but as Jarno said we will discuss it in the drivers' briefing – deeply!”