The streets of Baku, Azerbaijan can be wide and narrow at various points of the Baku City Circuit. Things almost turned badly for Toro Rosso as teammates Pierre Gasly came up on a slow running Brendon Hartley and Hartley forced Gasly to take evasive action at the last possible second.
With the tight situation in Baku, this could have easily been tragic. Gasly was running at high speed so if he clips Hartley going at about a quarter of the speed, Gasly’s car is going airborne. Kind of like how Mark Webber’s car went airborne when it happened to him at Valencia.
Both drivers were understandably shaken after that. Gasly was immediately cursing out Hartley over the radio but when speaking to the media, he was a bit more composed.
“It was really scary, the scariest moment of my career,” said Gasly. “I didn’t know if he was going left or going right.”
“I don’t know what happened to Brendon, he slowed down massively. I was at 320 kph (nearly 200 mph) and, honestly… he almost stopped, I tried to avoid him and I was sure I was going to crash.”
“I could already see myself in the air, I don’t know how I avoided it, but it was a pretty scary moment.”
Hartley immediately took blame for the close call. It wasn’t all his fault because a tire puncture made it tougher for him to control the car but he acknowledged he was in the racing line and shouldn’t have been there. Hartley also wasn’t aware Gasly was on a qualifying lap so Hartley wasn’t expecting Gasly to come up on him at full speed.
“I clipped the inside wall and through the left hander I knew I had an issue and slowed down, I was unaware Pierre was so close behind me.”
“Obviously I was going half speed, trying to figure how bad the problem was and I completely messed it up. The problem is, with the walls, you don’t see them coming.”
“I made a big mistake, I’m sorry for him. I owe him a big apology for getting in the way and nearly causing a huge accident. I’m disappointed how that went down. Not a good day.”
The two cars will be starting near the back of the pack and there could be penalties for Hartley from the FIA but at least for them and for Toro Rosso, everyone is fine.