Felipe Massa says Carlos Sainz admitted to deliberately impeding his first Q3 lap during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, but Sainz has denied the claim.
Massa was forced to abandon his first flying effort in the final segment of qualifying, after encountering Sainz's Renault at Turn 4. Massa qualified 10th but is set to start his final home race in Brazil from ninth after Daniel Ricciardo's grid penalty is applied.
The Williams driver was left furious by the incident and was adamant he could have qualified higher had he not been blocked, having posted the fourth and seventh-fastest times in Q1 and Q2.
"I was so happy with the car in Q1 and Q2, and unfortunately in Q3 I had a driver, Carlos Sainz, disturbing my lap on purpose, on purpose," Massa said. "And I think that's really amazing, because when you have a mistake from the engineer or maybe didn't know the car was coming, it can happen. But on purpose, no.
"I was much more in front of him when I left the garage. After corner five I let him go, but I was a lot more in front of him. He was completely in front of me, very close, and I lost, you can see in the laptime. That's what happened. I even spoke to him and said 'this time you disturbed me on purpose, you knew I was coming'. And he said, 'Yeah, I knew, because you disturbed me yesterday in the long run'.
"He did it on purpose and for me that is completely unacceptable, and this disrupted my qualifying to be maybe four of five positions in front," he added. "I really hope the stewards understand and they see what happened. It was clear I did the corner very close to him. He knew I was there and he didn't let me by, knowing that I was coming."
When asked about Massa's accusation that he blocked him on purpose, Sainz replied: "No, not at all. It's a very strong accusation to say I did something on purpose. He could have got out of the way before, in Turn 4. I had to do Turn 4 behind him and I was impeded by him by 2-3 tenths in my first lap of Q3.
"Then he started complaining, talking about yesterday. I don't know why. It's something I don't understand at the moment. I don't know, I wasn't really listening, because for me it's not worth it. Yesterday we had some issues on track, for sure, but in qualifying I am never going to risk to penalise someone."