Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

How Sainz obeyed order to let Norris past, then re-passed him, in “clever” unseen move

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr appeared to have ignored an instruction to let Lando Norris pass him during the opening stages of the United States Grand Prix.

However onboard footage revealed the Ferrari driver did follow the order from race control to let the McLaren driver pass him. Sainz immediately reclaimed the place, however, with what McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl called a “clever” move.

Sainz was told to let Norris past because he had gone off-track at turn 12 while maintaining his position ahead of the McLaren driver on lap one. Daniel Ricciardo also went off at the same corner in his McLaren, and Sainz immediately let him through.

On lap six, Sainz was told he had to let Norris by. “Carlos we have been instructed by race director to give a position to Lando for turn 12 lap one, I’m afraid,” said race engineer Riccardo Adami.

Sainz appeared to have confused the two orange cars in his mirrors. “No, I gave it to Ricciardo back in turn 16,” he replied. “I lifted on purpose. It was not Lando.”

“I already gave up one position to them, please,” he added.

As Sainz began the next lap Adami told him: “We have been already discussing so I’m afraid we have to do it now, let him by.” When Sainz asked where he should let the McLaren through Adami told him: “Right now, before turn 11.”

Sainz let Norris pass him into turn eight…
…then immediately re-passed him at turn 11

Sainz, who had been almost two seconds ahead of Norris, eased off and allowed him to pass between turns seven and eight. However Sainz stayed close to the McLaren through the next three corners and crossed the DRS detection line approaching turn 11 within a second of his rival.

He was therefore able to use DRS on the following straight, and launched his Ferrari down the inside of Norris from a considerable distance back to reclaim the place at turn 12.

Seidl said race control made the correct decision by ordering Sainz to give up the position. “From my point of view it was clear that Carlos only got Lando back because he went off the track,” he said. “So that’s why we expected that he had to give the position back which then he had to do later on.

“But unfortunately he did it in a clever way so that he could actually overtake Lando back straight away on the next straight so we couldn’t benefit from that.”

The McLaren team principal said he took his “hat off” to his former driver for his cunning re-pass. “He did it in a clever way because the regulations allow to do it like that.”

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi said McLaren raised no questions over Sainz’s re-pass during the race.

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2021 United States Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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31 comments on “How Sainz obeyed order to let Norris past, then re-passed him, in “clever” unseen move”

  1. This was probably Lando’s most underwhelming race of the year.
    I know the Ferraris were pretty rapid this weekend, but Daniel was able to put a little extra pressure on Carlos (and Charles at the beginning) than Lando.

    On his better weekends Lando would have made it much harder to let Carlos back past.

    1. After his crash at Spa, Lando looks like a different driver.

      1. He was using quite an old engine apparently whilst Danny Ric had a much a fresher engine

      2. Since Spa, he has:
        Scored his best F1 result at Monza
        Got his first F1 pole at Sochi
        Came so close to winning his first race at Sochi but for an incorrect tire choice after a sudden downpour.
        So not sure I’d agree with your assessment there.

      3. Except Russia was after Spa…

        1. Last year Norris was very strong in the beginning of the year but then lost strength. This year he has been strong but begins to languish … I don’t know if that is a trend.

  2. Lando really didnt have a good weekend did he? Slower than Dan in Q1, Q2, Q3, then played for a chump by carlos. Finished behind Dan and dropped to p5 in the championship

    Oh well, on to mehico.

  3. The McLaren never had the mechanical grip to do anything, only realistic overtaking place was the straight and they couldn’t get traction on turn 11. Pretty much Monaco but with a longer straight.

  4. What if Norris had been even cleverer and had refused to pass at this place, waiting to be let by on the straight ? This has the potential to generate some ludicrous situations.

    1. @palindnilap Yeah the problem is if you play that cat and mouse game then you are losing time to everyone else on the track. I’m not sure how close anyone was behind those two at that point but certainly Bottas was going to be a threat at some stage and they would have wanted to stay in touch with Leclerc and Ricciardo ahead if possible. So while Lando may have recognised what Carlos was doing, he might have ended up losing out even more by trying to back off and stay behind him until the DRS detection.

      1. Yes of course, there is a cost induced to both drivers. This is the stuff of mathematical game theory (like some F1 strategy decisions are).

        1. imo, if there is an obvious created moment to give back the place and the driver refuses to take it, its lost.

          1. Your common sense takes all the fun out of it ;-)

  5. Clever cheeky move – kudos to Carlos. And fair play too, Norris could have passed him in the straight instead…

  6. Wasn’t Hamilton penalized for a similar move at Spa in 2008? I know he immediately attacked Räikkönen after giving the place back, but that’s about the same as giving back a place right before the DRS detection zone nowadays.

    1. @f1infigures The difference is Sainz didn’t re-pass immediately.

    2. @f1infigures
      It was not quite the same. At Spa in 2008, Hamilton passed Kimi off track into the bus-stop-chicane and Lewis could’ve easily made the corner, if he wanted to. Instead he decided to skip the corner, lift for a second and immediately tuck back into the Ferrari’s slipstream. Then he passed Kimi into the the next corner at La Source.

      Carlos, on the other hand, didn’t immediately re-pass Lando. He let him by at turn 7, stayed as close as possible to the McLaren coming into turn 11, then had a good exit onto the back straight and passed Lando into the braking zone of turn 12. Carlos was actually quite a long way behind him at that point.
      A penalty would have been ridiculous, given that Lando was already some 3 car lengths ahead of Carlos coming out of turn 11.

      1. @srga91 Sadly the whole thing wasn’t broadcast, so I don’t really know what happened, but to me it seems it’s quite unfair to give a place back right before the DRS zone. Under normal circumstances Sainz would never be able to stay that close to a similarly-paced McLaren through the twisty first sector. 3 car lengths isn’t all that much (18 meters or so, or half a second at 130 km/h or 80 mph).

        1. @f1infigures
          If Carlos let Lando through just before turn 11 and then re-passed him easily on the straight, then he should have gotten a penalty or let him by once again.
          But Carlos didn’t do that. In fact, he gave Lando four corners to build a small gap (where it’s also hard to follow) and that McLaren is very fast on the straight as well. Although Carlos did gain on Lando with the help of DRS, he was still behind him coming into the braking zone of turn 12 and had to complete the move on the brakes.

          I checked it on F1’s data channel once again and Carlos was 0.722 behind Lando at the start of the straight and 0.314 right before the braking zone.
          I think he gave the McLaren a fair chance to keep ahead and didn’t gain a lasting advantage by letting him pass into turn 7.

          1. @srga91 Thanks for the explanation.
            It’s a bit of a gray area I guess. Sainz allowed Norris to get past a few corners before the DRS straight, so it wasn’t totally obvious he got some advantage, but it likely was. In the end Norris just braked too early and almost immediately lost the place he’d gained.

    3. Suzuka 2005 is remembered as a great victory for Kimi who started 17th. The race could have gone to Alonso, who started 16th, but passed Christian Klein shortly after having given him back the position (for having passed him bypassing the last chicane). The extremely bizarre way in which he was ordered to give Klein the position back again totally ruined his race. Those were the times in which Renault’s totally internal mass damper was ruled as an illegal aerodynamic device. Which Merc’s suspension isn’t. Go figure, MIA/HIA.

    4. Suzuka 2005 is remembered as a great victory for Kimi who started 17th. The race could have gone to Alonso, who started 16th, but passed Christian Klein shortly after having given him back the position (for having passed him bypassing the last chicane). The extremely bizarre way in which he was ordered to give Klein the position back again totally ruined his race. Those were the times in which Renault’s totally internal mass damper was ruled as an illegal aerodynamic device. Which Merc’s suspension isn’t. Go figure, MIA/HIA.

  7. Well, at least we saw the huge battle for 19th. TV director was poor again. Not the first, not the second, not the third time. They didn’t even show the finishers apart from the top 2.

  8. What about the Hamilton-Spa rule about staying behind for two corners in this situation?

    1. I think that two corner thing was something the stewards and Charlie Whiting just made up on the spot, not sure it ever made it into the regulations as such. With that in mind, I think it’s up to the stewards to decide whether the place has been given back fairly. Personally, I quite like the two corner rule to alleviate these grey areas, but no doubt it opens another can of worms.

    2. @dmw
      Carlos actually stayed behind Lando for five corners. Carlos let him by in T7 and passed the McLaren in the braking zone of T12. Don’t know what more he could’ve done tbh.

  9. Far from immediately, LOL. T7 (not 8) & 12 are far away from each other.
    Nevertheless, Sainz played well by dropping behind at that point, although he could’ve equally waited until past T9 & achieved the same outcome.
    I wish these moves got shown on the international feed. A questionable & very late requirement, though.

  10. Clever cheeky move, but then think about if it was Fernando who did that. This comment section would have a busy discussion and some saying he was a cheater. Now just because it was media’s golden boy Carlos, no one will dare to question his intentions or merits. Another dose of double standards taken in.

  11. IMO @f1 should implement automated system- if you cross track limits you should automatically get penalty in the form of rev limiter on the main stright. No matter if you ran wide on your own or was pushed off. On top of that stewards would review & punish whoever was predominantly to blame with time penalties. The rationale behind this approach is that if there would be grass or gravel then if you are pushed off you would suffer. But if you made a mistake then it would be impossible to gain advantage. It should be applied the same way at every corner and every lap.

  12. so — that move — was — really was — totally — unseen ? no cam nowhere ?
    CANNOTT BELIIEEVE !

  13. Sainzb and clever should never be used in the same paragraph. He’s like the dumb Ben Stiller caveman from Night at the museum, even looks like him!

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