Toro Rosso drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley have explained that a communication mix-up caused the Safety Car period that had a transformative effect at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Gasly and Hartley ran towards the rear of the pack throughout the bulk of the weekend at Shanghai, with Toro Rosso unable to replicate the pace that netted it a strong haul of points in Bahrain.
Toro Rosso diverged on its strategies, with Hartley taking the start from 15th place on Ultrasofts, and Gasly lining up one row behind as the only driver to run the first stint on Mediums.
Hartley switched to Mediums after 10 laps while Gasly was serviced 21 laps in for a set of Soft tyres, and the Frenchman was catching his team-mate as the second stint wore on.
Toro Rosso instructed the pair to swap positions but they came to blows at the Turn 14 hairpin, with Gasly tipping Hartley into a spin, suffering front wing damage in the process.
Gasly was deemed the culpable party and received a 10-second time penalty, along with two penalty points, while the resultant debris caused the deployment of the Safety Car, which changed the complexion of the win battle.
“I apologise to Brendon for the contact we had,” said Gasly.
“The team told me that they were going to switch our positions so I went on the inside of the back straight thinking he would give me space.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think he saw me and once I was on the inside there was nothing I could do.
“We lost a lot of time after that, I broke my front wing and the steering bent at the end of the race, so it was really difficult to drive and we couldn’t do much from there.”
Hartley proffered his view, commenting: “I think the accident with Pierre was down to a miscommunication.
“The team asked us to swap positions because we were on completely different strategies, so I was going to let him by on the exit of Turn 14 like I did at the start of the race.
“The second time we had to change positions I planned to do the same but I got hit from behind at the apex.”
The penalised Gasly went on to classify in 18th position while Hartley retired with five laps remaining due to a gearbox problem.