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Latifi and Stroll in war of words over 'ridiculous' collision

The Williams of Nicholas Latifi and the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll came together during qualifying with both exiting the session early.

Neither Nicholas Latifi nor Lance Stroll have taken responsibility for what has been branded a "ridiculous" and "awkward" qualifying crash in Australia. The two drivers came together during Q1 at Albert Park, dumping them from the session and leaving the pair set to start Sunday's race sharing the back row. The incident occurred at a narrow section of the street track and resulted in a red flag, with the session being momentarily paused. Latifi appeared at first to let Stroll pass him, before then choosing to re-overtake his rival, at which point they collided heavily. And after a meeting with the stewards, it was decided that Stroll was the driver "predominantly to blame" for the collision.

Latifi insists he is not to blame for qualifying crash

Speaking after the qualifying session, Latifi said he was not to blame for the crash, adding that he felt there was a gap large enough for him to re-pass Stroll safely. The crash came with both cars on preparation laps and neither driving at full, racing speed. "I let him through because he was pushing to open the lap, so I was told, and then I saw he'd aborted the lap, so I wanted to carry on with my own preparation lap, so I went back by him," Latifi explained to Sky Sports F1 . "There was a big gap and once I kind of got past him, for whatever reason, he does that at the turn. "It's clear for me on the video, [so] there's not much more to say."

Stroll brands incident "awkward" and "ridiculous"

Stroll also refused to take responsibility, describing the incident as "awkward" and "ridiculous". It came only hours on from a crash in FP3 that left his Aston Martin mechanics in a race against time to prepare the car for qualifying. "We were on a cool lap. I saw the video; he went to try and pass me all of a sudden in a very awkward part of the circuit," said Stroll. "The circuit falls off to the right and then to the left, where that is. I think what happened was just very awkward at an awkward part of the track. "He was all of a sudden trying to cut by me and it gets narrower as the circuit falls to the right, and then we make contact. It's pretty ridiculous."

Stewards decide Stroll was to blame

After a meeting with the stewards, during which video evidence was reviewed, it was decided that Stroll was "predominantly to blame" for the incident. The stewards noted that Stroll showed a "lack of situational awareness" of Latifi's passing manoeuvre. As a result, Stroll was handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday's race and two penalty points on his racing licence. Stroll will start the Australian GP last on the grid, with Latifi ahead of him in 19th.

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