Pascal Wehrlein was an early retiree from the Belgian Grand Prix as the Manor Racing driver hit the back of Jenson Button at Les Combes on the opening lap after being caught out by drivers returning to the racing line.
Wehrlein had started from the midfield for only the second time after making it through to Q2 on Saturday, but bemoaned the incident that cost him a shot at a good result as the clash with the McLaren-Honda driver ended his afternoon at Spa-Francorchamps.
“I was really unlucky,” said Wehrlein. “In Turn 5 the two drivers in front of me were fighting for position, braking late, missing the line, so I tried to overtake them into Turn 6 on the outside.
“Then, both came back on the line and when I saw that I wanted to brake and move to the inside but I couldn’t avoid the crash.
“I’m really unhappy about it but that is what can happen on the first lap when you’re starting in the midfield; that part I can’t complain about and that’s where I want us to be starting next time in Monza.”
Despite his early retirement, Wehrlein is taking some comfort that the team were genuinely competitive this weekend, and is hopeful that their strong straight-line speed will translate into a positive result at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza next weekend.
“I think P9 in Q1 was a really good measure of how strong we were here this weekend,” insisted Wehrlein. “That’s the bit I’ll take forward into Monza and work to maintain.
“Of course, I’m sad for the team because of what could have been today in the race, especially with all the incidents that created some opportunities. But, we’ll come back fighting next weekend. Not long to wait!”