Hardly “best buddies” since their GP2 days, as the former told Autosport‘s Lawrence Barretto at the beginning of 2016, Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr came dangerously close to wiping each other out in the Spanish Grand Prix.
After locking up at Turn 1 as he pursued the Brazilian, Ericsson accused Nasr of moving in the braking zone and risking an accident in a desperate effort to keep his Sauber team-mate behind.
With Nasr again running ahead of the sister car as the Saubers followed Romain Grosjean and Pascal Wehrlein, he was unwilling to let Ericsson past without a fight, encouraging the team to get involved as they searched for a first points finish of 2016.
“Just swap position, Felipe, swap position,” instructed his race engineer on Lap 48.
“For what reason? Give me a reason why.”
“He’s much quicker at the moment. If Marcus were not pull away, you will gain the position back.”
Despite the promise of being handed back the position if Ericsson was unable to overtake Grosjean and Wehrlein, Nasr remained firm and forced a more senior voice to join the conversation.
“OK Felipe, this is from the top: we need to swap position now, please. Let’s do it, let’s get it done. Turn 1.”
With his team-mate still refusing to move aside, Ericsson could sense Nasr was playing games with the pit wall.
“Guess there’s something wrong with his radio?” he asked sarcastically.
“Sounds like, sounds like,” came the response from his race engineer.
As Ericsson later told Motorsport.com’s Charles Bradley, he was then instructed to take matters into his own hands and “go for it,” but chose to do so at La Rascasse, where any overtaking manoeuvre requires a degree of compliance.
A degree of compliance that, on the evidence of Nasr’s reluctance to follow team orders, he was never going to receive, with the cars making contact at the double-apexed right hander on Lap 49.
“Why Marcus did that? Why?” Nasr whined as he pointed in the direction while his team-mate limped away with a broken front wing.
After immediately pitting for repairs, the Brazilian rejoined the track, but his collision with Ericsson had left his car in need of more than just a little cosmetic surgery.
“I see a lot of smoke coming out,” Nasr reported on Lap 51. “There is some internal smoke in the car.”
That smoke led to his retirement at the end of that lap, but it was nothing compared to the smoke coming out of the Sauber management’s ears by that point.