Sauber’s Felipe Nasr says that he didn’t think team orders were necessary after his refusal to obey some during the race led to a crash between himself and Marcus Ericsson.
Nasr had led Ericsson on track leading up to the crash, having started from the pitlane due to an engine failure in qualifying on Saturday. Having negotiated the tricky wet conditions and the change from full wets to intermediates, then the dry tyres, the two Saubers were line astern behind the Haas of Romain Grosjean when Ericsson tried a late dive on Nasr into La Rascasse. The pair collided, both cars were damaged and both retired within the next few laps due to the damage incurred.
After the race, Nasr was furious. He explained that while he had ignored the orders to allow Ericsson through, he felt there was no reason to do so:
“I was doing my own race. First of all, it’s Monaco. There were such tricky conditions for everyone. When it goes wet to dry, there’s only one racing line for everyone. It was really difficult to overtake out on track in all conditions out there. All I can say is that, today, I had to race with an old spec engine, starting from the pitlane, and my race was going really well. But when the leaders came through to lap me, I just kept getting blue flags for 3 or laps and I lost tyre temperature. Then having some engine problems too and trying to diagnose problems from inside the car. There was a misfire, and that doesn’t help. Once I got it cleared and got my temperatures back, I caught Grosjean and I was right behind him when Ericsson tried to overtake and we crashed at La Rascasse.”
“I tried to explain to the team, I said “Guys”… They could see the data, they could see the problems I was having on the engine side. Once the problems and blue flags were clear, the pace was there and I was clearly catching the cars ahead. There was no reason to swap positions at that place. I got the message, but I didn’t feel it was the right time to do it.”
Nasr said that part of his reason to refuse the orders was due to Ericsson’s refusal to obey similar orders at races last year:
“There was two occasions last year that Marcus was told to swap positions last year, and he didn’t do it. For me, today, there was racing going on again. It’s not like we were fighting for points and we were clearly on different strategy to let him go. For me, it was all about the cars I was catching ahead. If you look at the race, I was catching them one or two seconds a lap.”
“Marcus didn’t yield position twice. These are things that, as a racing driver, you remember well.”
Asked whether he had spoken to his teammate, or whether he intends to, he replied:
“No, I don’t think there is anything to comment. He is mature enough to know what happened today. I don’t have anything against Marcus, I just think that what happened today he’s mature enough to analyse. I’m not the person to comment on that. Right or wrong, orders or not, we shouldn’t be out of the race, no matter what.”
Ericsson has been given a grid penalty and penalty points for causing the collison after a stewards enquiry into the accident.