Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2021

Race control’s “strange” decision on lapped cars nearly cost me podium – Sainz

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Carlos Sainz Jnr was one of many drivers who were perplexed by the Safety Car un-lapping procedure towards the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver said race control’s decision to only allow five of the eight lapped cars to regain the lead lap put his third place in jeopardy from cars behind. He crossed the line with the AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly within one-and-a-half seconds of him.

Sainz moved into a podium position after Red Bull retired Sergio Perez with three laps to go, during the Safety Car period that ended on the penultimate lap.

Shortly before racing resumed, race control told the lapped drivers between leader Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to overtake the safety car. However those between Verstappen and Sainz – McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll – had to stay in formation.

That meant Sainz restarted the race with two lapped cars ahead of him and Valtteri Bottas filling his mirrors.

“It was certainly a very strange situation for me because I was battling for a podium with Valtteri and some AlphaTauris behind with a medium tyre while I was on a very used hard,” said Sainz.

Report: F1’s midfield runners left “speechless” and confused by controversial late restart
“At the beginning, I was told that they were not going to be allowed to un-lap themselves, the people in front of me. And then it was decided to un-lap themselves. And some people un-lapped themselves, but there were still an Aston Martin and the McLaren of Ricciardo between the two leaders and myself.

“This, I’ve never had it before, having to restart the race with these two guys in front of me while fighting for P3.”

One of the two drivers ahead of Sainz quickly got out of his way. Blue flags were waved at the start of the second sector, after the two cars ahead had created a small gap to Sainz, and so Stroll slowed significantly to allow Sainz and then the chasing Bottas and AlphaTauri drivers through.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, pursued the two leaders, crossing the line 1.3 seconds after Lewis Hamilton to finish 12th, one lap down. Over a minute later, the drivers he had earlier been contending with for a points finish took the chequered flag, having been allowed to un-lap themselves the lap previously.

“I do believe it was a strange one, and maybe something to look at because it was just very strange to see and it nearly cost me my podium, to be honest,” concluded Sainz.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

30 comments on “Race control’s “strange” decision on lapped cars nearly cost me podium – Sainz”

  1. nearly cost me podium

    But how? It’s not like his pursuers wouldn’t have been behind him either way.

    1. He wouldn’t have had 2 slower cars in his way.

      1. Are you referring to the slower car that got out of the way or the slower car that wasn’t actually slower at all?

    2. The lapped cars in front of him might have given Bottas an opportunity to overtake Sainz.

      1. But Bottas was not faster and even passed by the two AT’s.
        All in all a strange story. Mostly stress probably about the chance to miss the podium he was gifted by the retiring Perez.

    3. I dunno. Maybe Sainz felt like he had a chance getting involved a race win.

      I know that’s a bit silly – I mean what racer in 3rd on a restart with one lap to go, would fancy their chances (rolling eyes!!)

      Let’s say Hamilton and Verstappen tangle for 1 second or slowdown to avoid each other for 1 second, then suddenly Sainz would have been in with a chance of victory.

      Masi’s decision to only care about the top two, scuppered that admittedly unlikely scenario.

      It just adds to the sheer incompetence and unfairness.

      And note I’m a Lewis fan, who actually isn’t particularly bothered about him losing now, because everyone saw who dominated that race as he as the last three. Add on that the stewards have now, at last decided. that Max’s lunges (or anyone’s) or no longer allowed and that’s going to make a big difference to next season. So I’m far more optimistic about Lewis beating him in the future than I was before Brazil.

      However, yesterday’s farce that has even none F1 fans laughing – is no laughing matter for us F1 fans.

      1. Carlos appeared concerned about losing a podium, i.e. placing worse than the 3rd he was running on track and ended up finishing, not about not finishing higher on it.

  2. Would have been one hell of an end had Yuki got a podium!

    Though Carlos thoroughly deserved it.

  3. Only further demonstrates WDC bias.

    1. But is not really factual.
      He was unable to follow the faster ricciardo and Stroll let him by without delay.
      Bottas was slower ( and passed by the two AT’s)
      So a nice story and it fits the narrative “masi made a mistake” but has no merit whatsoever.
      @jerejj

  4. I don’t fully understand why he was even on the podium in the first place; more to the point I don’t understand Red Bull’s decision to retire Checo. Has anything been said about what the problem was and why was it severe enough that it wasn’t worth running the last 3 laps of the season?

    1. @jackysteeg I’m 99.9% sure Red Bull were seeing signs that pointed to a potential issue in Checo’s car. That would mean extending the SC if his car broke in the middle of the track and would definitely give the race to Hamilton. It didn’t even have to be too severe, it just wasn’t worth the risk.

      1. I think on Ted’s Notebook it was something along the lines of a dual problem: hydraulic and something else?

        He also mentioned a conspiracy that they underfuelled him so that he’d be faster in holding up Lewis.
        Don’t believe it, but also wouldn’t be too surprised if it were true 😛

        1. I m 99% sure red bull planned something sinister

          In any of the sc periods, if ham pits ahead of max, max stays out, then they create a fake situation park the car somewhere unsafe and vsc sc or red flag the race so max doesn’t loose ground or gain advantage. Under fueling is the most likely situation and they could easily say there was a leak of some sorts and they wouldn’t be able to supply enough sample. Perez didn’t seem to understood why he was retired.

          Massia and FIA also has no ground to stand on. They wanted only two guys race in one being extremely unfairly treated. No legal race procedures followed. If they want race to finish not under sc, then should have thought about red flag the moment the incident happened. Not before the last corner and not half ased rules that only benefited one driver and one driver only. Why not other lapped cars to be given the same advantage?

          Ham’s win was stolen under Broad Night Lights of the circus called F1. I m not expecting maFIA to change their decision as the previous cases any indication.

          1. @mysticus if they did that, then I feel terrible for Perez. He’s essentially a legendary road obstacle.

          2. I m 99% sure red bull planned something sinister

            i would not expect less from you ;)

        2. Thanks for the info was also confused about Perez. It makes sense that they didn’t want to risk an other delay on the saftey car. Also crossed my mind that they underfuelled him but he almost made it to the end so that doesn’t make sense and I don’t think it is illegal if they did.

    2. They had already lost the constructor’s championship, so they didn’t lose anything. But if they thought that checo’s car had a problem that might cause him to break down on the last lap and bring out another sc or vsc they were right not to risk it

    3. it was mentioned during the race that his PU was losing pressure so they had to retire, they had no chance of keeping him running.

      1. 3 laps worth of fuel would hardly make a significant difference for the task of holding up the opposition I reckon

        1. But fuels the storys by lewis fans..

    4. Could Red Bull have been avoiding scrutineering?

  5. It certainly was a strange thing to see happen. Btw, did Red Bull actually tell the world what was the reason for retiring Perez?

  6. It also meant that Verstappen didn’t even have to check his mirrors when going after Lewis as Sainz was barred from attacking him. All the implications of Masi’s decision are just horrendous.

    1. @nordmann yeah, and Mercedes can use this argument to prove that the FIA was meddling with the championship especially since Masi had originally decided not to unlap the cars, then Horner asked him to remove them and said all we need [to win] is 1 lap. Masi obliged.

      I can’t see this not being decided to be illegal. I’m just curious about how they’ll fix it. Will they reverse the championship? If they don’t, I can’t imagine the damages to Lewis and Mercedes.

      There’s also talk of foul play with Perez which could potentially blow up Red Bull as a team and destroy Perez and Horner’s career for life. Red Bull was just too eager to win this and I feel they would have crossed any line to beat Mercedes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Max’s driving, as dirty and illegal as it was, was the cleanest thing.

      This has the potential to destroy F1 and unfortunately it cannot be swept under the carpet as we all witnessed it. They have to fix this and also prevent this from ever happening again.

    2. Yep! The more you think it through the more ‘bent’ it seems, but in no way was that Masi’s intention.

      Unfortunately, that’s how it looked. There was absolutely no logical reason for his decision. Races have ended on a safety car lap.

      1. @banbrorace
        “Races have ended on a safety car lap.” i chuckled when i remember spa race! race started with sc, and ended with sc with zero official laps conducted and max again was deemed the winner obviously… SC my back side really… Let Them Race? pfftt… they changed the meaning of ANY/ALL to (not all, just the right amount that benefits us) and the THEM actually means THEMax,

        1. well “the best” at least ;)

  7. Delighted that Sainz held onto his podium spot, keeping up his 100% record of getting podiums when nobody notices! He’s been low-key excellent this year, getting to grips with the Ferrari much quicker than any other driver who changed team.

  8. The “new rule” allowed the race director to create a race between 1 and 2 and to not allow a race between 1, 2, and 3. There was no legitimate reason to not unlap the 2 cars between 2 and 3. I think they were afraid Saint would catch Hamilton and take 2nd this pricing how much of a sham the decision was.

Comments are closed.