Contact with Max Verstappen avoided a likely gearbox exit – Carlos Sainz Jr.

Carlos Sainz Jr. believes his early clash with Max Verstappen in Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix avoided a likely retirement due to an impending gearbox problem.

Sainz Jr. moved up to sixth place on the opening lap and challenged Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the fourth lap, but the pair made contact through Turn 4.

The resultant damage to Sainz Jr.’s car forced him into an unscheduled pit stop and the time loss meant he spent much of the race at the rear of the field, before retiring with four laps left.

But he feels the collision with Verstappen ultimately prevented a more painful demise.

“I had a problem in the gearbox on lap 10, I was losing synchronisation of the gears for the rest of the race,” said Sainz Jr.

“I was losing nearly a second a lap because of it.

“So if I had have been P4 after that accident and suddenly the gearbox would have started failing like it did, now I would be even more pissed off.”

On the collision with Verstappen, he said: “I got a really good run out of Turn 2, I got DRS with a very big headwind and had a big speed advantage on Max.

“I arrived in front of him and braked later than him, he hit the kerb I think or got very far in the kerb and loses the car and I get a really big impact from the right side.

“So you could say leave a little more space, don't leave more space. He just missed the corner completely and hit me really hard.

“So that's racing, just very unfortunate because I had a lot of pace in the car today. I had a lot of pace on the cars in front, I was attacking the Mercedes and the Red Bull, just got the worst part of the accident.”