Aston Martin F1 driver Lance Stroll has been handed a three-place grid penalty for his part in a collision that saw Williams’ Nicholas Latifi suffer a high-speed crash during the first part of qualifying at the Australian Grand Prix.
Having initially slowed down to allow Stroll to overtake at the exit of turn four, believing he was on a flying lap, Latifi then attempted to drive back up the inside of his fellow Canadian, who seemingly aborted his run.
However, Latifi ran out of room, collided with Stroll and was sent spinning into the barrier.
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The session was subsequently red-flagged, with neither driver taking any further part in qualifying - won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc - due to the damage sustained to their cars.
Stroll, who finished at the back of the grid anyway after failing to record a flying lap prior to the incident, endured a difficult day after crashing himself during third practice earlier on Saturday.
The 23-year-old, whose father Lawrence part-owns Aston Martin F1, has also seen two penalty points added to his licence, taking his total for the current 12-month period to seven.
Speaking after the incident, Latifi insisted that the blame should fall squarely at the feet of Stroll.
“For me, it’s quite clear. I’ve just seen the video before coming here,” he told Sky Sports. “I was preparing my out-lap, and it seems like he just turned into me once I was alongside him. There’s not much more to say besides that.
“I let him through because he was pushing, or so I was told. Then I saw he had aborted the lap, so I wanted to carry on with my own preparation lap.
“I went back past him; obviously there was a big gap, and once I got past him, for whatever reason he decided to turn.”
The Latifi-Stroll red-flag incident was not the only dramatic moment to happen from an action-packed qualifying session, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso crashing out in Q3 when seemingly well-placed to challenge for a spot on the front two rows of the grid.
The 40-year-old had set the fastest middle sector of anyone on his flying lap, only to suffer an apparent hydraulic failure in the final turns, causing his car to collide with the barrier and lay to rest his hopes of an impressive qualifying finish.
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