Paul di Resta made an “under the belt” comment about fellow former Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert after the Briton disagreed with Nico Rosberg regarding set-up.
Rosberg had been talking about Ferrari’s chances of holding off Red Bull during the French Grand Prix, noting that the additional downforce the Italian side run on their car was going to degrade their tyres faster and cost Charles Leclerc the win to Max Verstappen.
Herbert’s view was the inverse of that, as the Briton indicated that the tyres actually become easier to manage with more downforce on the car.
“I don’t agree [with Rosberg],” he said during Sky Sports’ coverage of the French Grand Prix.
“Because I know from my experience when you add that more downforce, you can always look after the tyre within the corner, you can back off within the corner.
“When you have got the straight-line speed, you are still going to be moving around when you get in the corner, of course that’s going to really hamper the surface temperature of the tyre, then it’s going to overheat.”
Rosberg feigned disbelief at Herbert’s view differing from his own, and affirmed that Red Bull’s tyre wear has generally been better than that of the Scuderia this term.
“How dare Johnny disagree with me like that?!” he quipped.
“It’s not on! Definitely I do stand by that, it’s going to be a really tough race for Ferrari because we saw on Friday they are really struggling with the degradation and I am not sure they have sorted that out.
“Yes, they are going to be starting in front and most likely is going to be leading the way through the first stint, but the pressure from behind from Verstappen and even Perez is going to be huge.
“I think it’s going to be a really exciting race to see the strategy battle there and maybe Verstappen can even have a go at trying to pass him on track.”
Presenter Simon Lazenby turned to the three-time race winner and said “how dare you Herbert?” before the 58-year-old explained his position.
“How dare Nico?!” exclaimed Herbert.
“But Nico, obviously the Red Bull is going to be sliding around all over the circuit, that’s going to damage the tyre.
“I would rather have a little bit of downforce where I can back out, look after it and make it last a little bit longer surely?”
The 2016 world champion asserted that Ferrari would have to push harder in the corners to mitigate the time they would lose on the straights to Red Bull.
“You can’t afford to slide anyway Johnny,” explained Rosberg.
“You need to take it easy, especially in those high-speed corners, you need to take it well away from the limit and both drivers are going to be doing that.
“Then when you get to the straight, the Red Bull is going to be so much faster because Ferrari has downforce on, so Red Bull is really going to be pressuring that Ferrari down those straights and that’s the advantage they have in the race.”
Di Resta chipped in, saying that he was of Rosberg’s opinion, and that Herbert was “from an older generation.”
This drew a roar of laughter from Rosberg, who joked that the comments were too low.
“Thanks a lot Paul [but] that was not very nice of you towards Johnny, that was a bit under the belt area there,” he quipped.
Verstappen went on to win the race after Leclerc lost the back end of his car at Turn 11, crashing out from the lead.
The reigning champion extended his lead in the Drivers’ Standings to 63 points over Leclerc after his seventh win of 2022.