Toro Rosso Formula 1 drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley have revealed their collision at the Chinese Grand Prix was the result of “miscommunication” over a pre-planned position swap. 

Gasly, who finished fourth in Bahrain, was catching Hartley mid-way through the race and attempted to make a move down the inside of the Turn 14 hairpin, but ran into his Toro Rosso teammate causing him to spin. 

The incident left debris scattered across the Shanghai circuit and resulted in the Safety Car being deployed, which flipped the battle at the front on its head with Red Bull taking a strategy gamble that ultimately allowed Daniel Ricciardo to pull off a remarkable victory. 

After the race, Gasly insisted the Faenza-based outfit had instructed Hartley to let the Frenchman past into 18th place at Turn 14 because the pair had been running on alternate strategies. 

“I was catching Brendon and we were on two different strategies, they told me on the radio ‘OK Brendon is going to let you past’ at the end of the straight, so I expected him to let me by,” Gasly explained. 

“I went on the inside and I expected him to leave a bit of space for me to turn, and finally when he started to turn and I was on the inside, it was too late. There was nothing I could do. I tried to brake to avoid him but it was too late, we made contact and that was it.

“It’s a shame because it’s the last thing you want to do, to have contact with your teammate and it’s just a shame. I think we misunderstood each other, I expected him to do one thing and he probably expected something else. We said before the race to do it at Turn 14, so that’s why I expected him to do it but it wasn’t clear for him.”

Hartley said he had planned to let Gasly past on the exit of the Turn 14 hairpin, just as he had done in the first stint when he had been struggling for pace on Ultrasofts. 

“It was clearly a bit of miscommunication,” Hartley admitted. “We were on very different strategies. We swapped positions on the first stint as well because I was struggling on the Ultrasoft. I let him by on the exit of Turn 14, and the second time I was asked, I planned to do the same.

“But my feeling is he must have thought that I was opening a door on entry, which was not the case. The plan was to let him by at corner exit. That’s how the miscommunication caused the crash."

Gasly was handed a 10 second time penalty, and also received two penalty points added to his F1 license, for causing the collision. He ultimately finished 18th, while Hartley was forced into retirement with a gearbox issue in the closing stages. 

“For sure on TV I think it looks really bad for myself but with what we said it was pretty clear we would make the driver swap there,” Gasly added. “I never expected him to turn like this. Of course if we had been in a fight I would not have tried this because I would have expected him to close the door.”

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