Lucas di Grassi has hit out against attempts from his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport team to use team orders to help his title fight.
Di Grassi’s lead in the championship over Sebastien Buemi has been reduced to just a single point, but it would have been four points if Daniel Abt had obeyed a team order to let him past into second during the last two laps of the Berlin ePrix.
But despite this di Grassi believes his teammate did the right thing in not surrendering his position, saying that it wouldn’t have felt right.
Speaking to Autosport after the race, di Grassi said,“In a way if, because of these three points, I lose the championship, I prefer to lose it this way than having the team order done.”
“If I win now, it’s me against Sebastien. May the best win. If it’s not the last race and there aren’t specific reasons there should not be team orders. I wouldn’t feel right if I had taken the place from Daniel because he deserved it.”
Di Grassi also said that he had told the team that he didn’t want to use team orders beforehand, “I made it clear in the team strategy meeting I did not want team orders. We agreed not to fight each other, so the quicker one let the other by, but the last two laps I was not quicker.”
“We were both doing flat-out laps and there was not the opportunity. The risk was too much to gain for three points to attack him.”
For his part, Abt said that he did attempt to let his teammate past, and seemed at one stage to slow and gesticulate for his teammate to pass him, but said he was also wary of an attack from Nico Prost in fourth.
He said, “It does not matter for me whether I’m second or third. OK second is my best result, but we are a team and the goal is to win the teams’ and drivers’ championships.”
“It was always clear, if Lucas is behind me then I get that call – and they sent me this message. I wanted to let him past with two laps to go, I slowed down and waved but he was a bit far and I think he was not really sure if he could do it.”
“The lap after I was not keen to do it because Prost was not far away and imagine me losing a podium at the last corner – that would have been even more ridiculous. Lucas has what he needs to win it by himself. He’s an amazing racing driver.”
His father and team owner, Hans-Jurgen Abt, said he agreed with his son’s view on the matter. He told Autosport, “Daniel gave him space, maybe he [di Grassi] doesn’t recognise it and we have to accept it. Daniel knows he can help the championship. He tried to do it. To do it again at the last corner was tricky.”
“With Prost there if you make a mistake at the last corner you look not so good. And it’s fair with Daniel, this time he did a really great job. That’s why I’m not unhappy, and we have to accept what we did.”