Safety Car, Monza, 2020

Sainz ‘angry and disappointed to say the least’ over red flag

2020 Italian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr admitted he was frustrated by race control’s decision to red flag the Italian Grand Prix, which allowed rivals ahead of him to change tyres without pitting.

The McLaren driver ran second in the early stages. Following the Safety Car period, when he and several other drivers pitted to change tyres, he was poised to inherit the lead, as the drivers in front of him were all still on their original tyres apart from Lewis Hamilton, who was due to serve a penalty.

However the race was then red-flagged due to Charles Leclerc’s crash. This meant the drivers ahead of Sainz were able to fit fresh tyres without pitting.

“Lucky, lucky fuckers,” fumed Sainz on the radio when the call was made. “Why do they put a red flag, come on. Let us race.”

Sainz explained his frustration following the race. “We didn’t expect to be that strong,” he said. “Especially what I didn’t expect is for everyone behind us to not be able to overtake us and to open that five-second gap that gave me that buffer before the first stop.

“Then the Safety Car came out and I knew I had lost all that hard work earned. And then I very quickly realised that Lewis was going to get a penalty and I would have been the virtual race leader on the fresher tyres. I just had to go through the field and get myself to first and push like like mad.

“But the red flag came out. It was a rollercoaster of emotions because I was then lying in sixth with the same tyres as everyone in front of me, even on a used tyre for me from the Safety Car, and I was a bit angry and a bit disappointed, to say the least.”

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Sainz was able to pass several of the cars ahead of him and closed on race leader Pierre Gasly, but finished close behind the AlphaTauri in second place.

“I managed to recover and nearly made it,” he said. “But I think we can be proud because today I left nothing on the table in Monza. So I’m going to be calm that I know I didn’t leave one single tenth out there.”

He said it was difficult to attempt a pass on Gasly because his rubber was more worn.

“My tyres were four laps older and obviously I was struggling also,” said Sainz “The pace we had today was incredible. The gap I managed to open to the rest of the midfield in the first stint and after that red flag, managing to go through the five cars that I had in front to end up chasing Pierre definitely felt really nice and felt like I had a good shot for victory.

“Then once I got to 1.5 seconds I got stuck. The tow as we see now with these cars and the dirty air just starts affecting you a lot in traction, braking, meaning lock-ups, oversteer. I think we were both rallying a bit for a minute because we were struggling with tyres. But I’m happy to finish in a second.”

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2020 Italian Grand Prix

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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...
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31 comments on “Sainz ‘angry and disappointed to say the least’ over red flag”

  1. Sainz forgets that Gasly would have been ahead of him also without the red flag.
    Gasly pitted just before the safety car came out and because pit-lane was closed he was nearby when Sainz pitted.

    The only driver that didn’t have a regular pitstop was Stroll.

    FIA should not allow tyre change under red flag unless ordered by FIA for safety reasons.

    1. FIA should not allow tyre change under red flag unless ordered by FIA for safety reasons.

      I agreee. We have lost quite a few good races because of this before. I think the reason to allow tire changes under red flag is to make it safe if there is a big accident that puts lots of carbon fiber debris on the track as it could cause tire cuts. But in this case there was no such danger. So imho the rules should be changed so that tire change should be required if there is a crash that creates carbon fiber debris on track. But when the race is stopped just because a barrier needs fixing then obviously tire change should not be allowed. To me that sounds like a clear cut rule.

    2. @jelle-van-der-meer Whatever they do with the red flag tyre change rule, someone is always going to lose out in certain situations. If they say no tyre change is permitted then a driver who doesn’t pit but has to after the restart will lose more positions, since the back is bunched up again. This could easily drop a front runner to the back of the grid, regardless of what gal they’d built up over the race.

      And if tyre changes are permitted for safety reasons then that has to be policed – and it is gong to be subject to some judgement calls depending on the condition of the tyres. The driver is also incentivised to damage the tyres to get a free change at the red flag. Also, drivers on extremely worn tyres might not be able to get them back in the working range at the restart, leading to potentially big differences in speed which could be considered dangerous.

      I think all in all while not allowing drivers to change tyres ‘might’ be more fair sporting wise, the FIA have erred on the side of caution with regards to safety and minimised chances of gaming the system with the rules the way they are. It’s just one of those things that happen from time to time that is either extremely lucky or unlucky for some drivers.

      1. ‘Pack’ is bunched up, ‘gap’ they’d built up, and ‘going’ to be subject. My typing game wasn’t really on point here.

      2. There is losing out due to timing and there is losing due to red flag. At least under safety car a team still has to execute a good pitstop, under red flag they have all the time in the the world to both work out the best tyre strategy and do the actual tyre change…

    3. He still would have been able to attack Gasly from the SC restart onward though, giving them a lot better chance of getting there than after having to pass a train of cars first.

      He had to pass Stroll, Giovannazi, and Kimi before he could get onto Gasly, in the meantime Gasly had the time to build a 3-4 second gap @jelle-van-der-meer.

      I guess one could have teams prove they needed to change the tyres in a red flag (because of debris, or because the car was involved in the accident and has a puncture, because the race was red flagged for a change of weather meaning they must fit full wets and who knows what), just like they have to show what parts they are replacing/repairing in such a case.

      1. F1 is already overly complicated, why not make it fair. You can change tyres under red flag if you move back in position equivalent to time penalty of 20sec (or to be defined for each track) prior to SC or red flag.
        The leader which hasn’t pitted while everyone else has but has 25sec lead keep it;
        and the guy who got the lucky draw being in the lead solely because he hasn’t pitted while everyone else has gets a choice (keep the lead or change tires).

    4. I think the tyre change rule under red flag conditions could be fairer if they were only allowed to change tyres to another set of the same compound (eg. softs can only be replaced with softs). In this case it would still mean later on the cars that hadn’t pitted would still be forced to dive into the pits again to change compounds and not luck into a free pitstop.

  2. Purely on merit, Sainz was the first behind Hamilton to take advantage of Ham’s penalty. It’s a great shame for Carlos, not such a great shame for McLaren – they have a great trajectory and with continual progression, they could fight for the highest positions in two years or so.

    1. Yes, a strong car, but losing a good chance for a first win since 2012 by 0.4/s still stings.

      1. Yes, especially with the trajectory in the race, it’s not like hungary 2007 where raikkonen was right behind hamilton for 50 laps but couldn’t overtake him, sainz would’ve passed gasly with just 1 more lap, not just from what he said, but also from how he closed up and having drs here is powerful, since gasly had no one to use drs on.

  3. They had to red flag it really, I’m more surprised they didn’t VSC for Magnussen.

  4. does seem a bit of a weird rule to let them change tyres for free after a red flag thereby letting cars bypass the mandatory pit stop requirement.

    that said, i thought the initial decision to safety car was ridiculous. there’s literally no point at all in having those gaps in the barriers with marshall posts there if they are not going to use them to recover cars that are stopped just a few feet away.

    i think there was a similar situation in brazil last year with bottas where he was stopped right next to a gap in the barriers, but im pretty sure there was a legitimate reason why they called the safety car on that occassion (they couldn’t move him up the slope manually or something). just really bad decisions from race control all weekend, not just in f1 but the lower formula races as well.

    1. Yes, with Bottas in Brazil I think his car was stuck in gear so they couldn’t roll it out of the way and had to get the cranes out.

      But even if the marshals had moved Magnussen’s car backwards today they would still have needed at least a VSC to cover it, given how close they were to the pit entry. Even under VSC the pit entry would still need to have been closed to avoid everyone diving for the pits. So maybe race control were a bit conservative in deploying the full SC rather than the virtual one, but I think it was a marginal call.

    2. Off course as @red-andy mentions, having a group of stewards there trying to move that car backwards would have been enough ground to close the pitlane anyway, regardless of under a VSC or a SC.

      And then, maybe you should look at that Marshalling post again on the footage @t1redmonkey. Right behind the opening there was that caged in marshalling table, but opposite that is a steel pillar and after that it quickly narrows, there is banking behind them there not much room. I doubt there is even enough room to put one of these current long and wide cars behind the barriers completely.

    3. @t1redmonkey

      Perhaps they shouldn’t count it as the mandatory pit stop, so the cars that didn’t stop before, have to do another stop later in the race.

  5. I know where Sainz is coming from. I’m personally not a fan of changing tyres under red flag. I get that there are times when it may be necessary, but I don’t think you should get a completely “free” tyre change.
    …However, its not really that different to the benefit that Sainz himself got by making his own stop under SC. Gasly had already stopped under green. In normal circumstances, that would put him at significant disadvantage to the others.

    1. Sainz did not benefit from stopping under safety car as the pitlane was closed… Also even if it had been normal safety car pit stop it is a huge advantage to change under red flag. Firstly the team has aged to work out exactly the best tyre strategy to go to, also they do not have to execute a perfect pit stop to benefit. If you stop under safety car then you still ha e to do a good pitstop as otherwise the advantage can be lost, us they have to quickly decide on what tyres strategy to go to. If you get it right it is an advantage of you don’t it can bugger your race up.

  6. My god this weekend has shown me the F1 rulebook needs to be burned and rewritten…and I am not even referring to the Lewis penalty.

  7. I personally feel for Sainz and fully understand his frustration. As much as I loved seeing Gasly winning and there’s an element of romance to it, I really thought he deserved a maiden win as much based on raw performance over the weekend.

    The red flag however was necessary from a safety point of view. When a driver experiences a high-speed crash at a high-speed track like Monza and a tyre barrier is out of place as a result there’s no other option.

    As for changing tyres under a red flag it’s one of those funny, “nothing” rules in the regulations that I don’t think needs to be a rule and is rare as red flags in races are rare themselves. But if you’re a driver in a position to take advantage then you’re not complaining, if you’re on the receiving end of it then you’re pretty much kicking yourself.

  8. Er the red flag was totally just, a safety mechanism was destroyed!

    However, the rule that you can change your tyres is moronic and I totally get his rage about that. HIs rage about the red flag is preposterous

  9. The SC call for Magnussen was awful. Specially if we remember they didn’t call it for Sutil’s car in the middle of the track in Hockenheim a few years ago.

    But it changed the race, so i guess they got what they wanted.

    1. I believe the full safety car was called not for the removal of the car but the oil on the road. I still feel it should have been a VSC myself though.

  10. That car could have been dragged back in 30 secs that’s why he stopped there.

  11. Mark in Florida
    6th September 2020, 19:23

    Yeah it was really stupid the way they pushed the Haas off. Why not go the shortest route to clear the track at the gap? Italians doing it the hardest way possible again…hmmmm maybe they were ex Ferrari people. Great race though Lewis stormed back towards the front and Bottas looking like what he is a loyal wingman. Congrats to Gasly he hung in for the win. Carlos was gutted for not being in first but he ought to be gutted by his decision to leave McLaren. Is he the new Alonso? Fast but making poor career choices. We’ll see.

  12. I think he is showing his immaturity a bit. It was was a complicated race that favoured those who gambled from the midfield. Gasly was on a big undercut strategy and Stroll was gambling on Raikkonen and Latifi holding people up when the Magnusson safety car ended so he could attack them later. Sainz did the standard strategy at all times given the circumstances and ended up where he had been the majority of the race (2nd) so he didn’t really lose anything.

    1. Stroll was not gambling… He benefitted from stupid rule.

    2. He lost the chance to win. He would have been around P2 on merit without any of the incidents. Hamilton’s penalty was a lucky break for Sainz, but then the red flag made it harder to catch up to Gasly, mainly because he had to waste time and tires getting Stroll out of the way. Also the red flag reduced race distance by one lap, the one lap he needed to get Gasly. So P2 went from a strong showing on merit to an unlucky break.

  13. At the very least, make anyone who changed tires under red flag do a drive through or stop and go under green to make it fair. That way only a few seconds at most are gained, not an entire free pit stop. Maybe stop and go plus ten if they repair any damage under red flag. I’m a bit surprised that changing cooling slats on the bodywork counts as like-for-like replacement.

  14. At the end of the day, Sainz was only going to win because of Mercedes infringement. If you read Sainz comments, he isn’t as bitter as some seem, he says he is proud of the result. He drove like his countryman Alonso in this race, and will be a race winner one day.

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