Carlos Sainz warns that Formula 1 can’t afford a repeat of the track limits fiasco that engulfed the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend.
Drivers exceeding track limits provided a recurring theme throughout the three days of running at the Red Bull Ring, with several drivers – including Sainz – being penalised at some stage during Sunday’s race.
However, a protest from Aston Martin after the race saw the FIA highlight that there had been 1200 potential track limit breaches over the course of the 71-lap event.
An investigation followed and 83 lap time deletions witnessed eight drivers pick up further penalties, dropping Sainz from fourth place down to sixth.
Following widespread complaints about the way track limits were handled in Austria, Sainz contends that a solution needs to be found in order to avoid a repeat situation.
Asked when he found out he would receive an additional 10s time drop, Sainz said: “I was taking off. It was just an email and I was already quite upset about the whole day and then suddenly you’re taking off and you’re gonna be one hour without the phone.
“And the last thing you read before taking off is the second penalty and P6, so you can imagine how it felt.
“In Australia [when a penalty dropped him outside of the points] I was really angry. This time. I was like, I don’t know if I expected it but the whole weekend was such a mess that you could expect the unexpected.
“It happened and whatever. Get over it and make sure this time I try to help as much as I can F1 and FIA to find solutions.
“We need to because I think this sport cannot allow itself another weekend like that because it really doesn’t look good and it is not good as a driver and not good as a team.”
Reports in the last week surfaced that the FIA had wanted the Red Bull Ring to install gravel traps at Turn 9 and 10 ahead of the 2023 grand prix – a request that was denied.
Sainz believes that alterations to the circuit are a necessity now to provide clarity to the drivers and reduce the chance of their weekends being compromised at any stage.
“There has been offered so many solutions,” he conveyed. “And for some reason we keep postponing, like an alarm, you know, postpone, postpone instead of acting on finding solutions for these kinds of circuits.
“For me it is a time to act whatever they want to do. I would be even happy even if you leave the rule the same and you put a loop, at least the loop is telling me immediately if I’ve done a track limit and I know I can correct it.
“The problem is I did the Q2 in Austria [and] finished my lap, you might be track limits which means you might go or might not go to Q3. So should we run another set of tyres in case my lap gets cancelled or not. We don’t know. Okay, let’s run. We run. Oh no, your lap was okay. Sorry. You just made me waste a set of tyres and my weekend is compromised.
“So at least [we need] immediacy and give the driver feedback, so we can also react accordingly.
“Long medium term, like a gravel trap or grass, piece of grass, and at least you cannot run wide.”
After a run of tough races, Ferrari introduced an extensive upgrade package in Austria and produced its best result of the year with Charles Leclerc taking second place.
Despite drawing encouragement from the improved feeling he enjoyed inside the SF-23 last weekend, Sainz asserts the Silverstone circuit will provide a reasonable barometer of Ferrari’s recent progress.
“I think we need maybe a more open windy circuit like Silverstone to evaluate it [the upgrade], last year’s British Grand Prix race winner cautioned.
“Normally, we’ve been struggling more in windy conditions like Miami, Baku, in the race sometimes. I think we need more samples to assess our progress and our upgrade package.
“What I can tell you is that the car felt better in Austria, both over one lap and in the race.
But we were also very quick in Austria last year. So I’m still being cautious and letting the circuits and the season go by to analyse it.
He added: “But I’m proud of the way the team reacted and the amount of upgrades that we’ve been bringing recently.”