Unhappy Sainz wants to know why FIA “didn’t allow” earlier position swap with Perez

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr wants the FIA to explain why he had to wait until after a Safety Car period had ended to regain a position Sergio Perez had incorrectly taken from him.

The Ferrari driver emerged from the pits fractionally ahead of his rival after his lap 16 pit stop under the Safety Car. However Perez moved past him into third place.

Perez did not relinquish the place until the race restarted four laps later. Sainz had foreseen the very situation unfolding earlier in the week, saying drivers had to be prepared to give up places “immediately” if they had incorrectly taken them.

“You cannot lose three or four laps, then have to give up the position,” Sainz said on Thursday. “That’s why the rulebook needs to be super-clear, needs to be applied in a moment that there’s any friction.”

Speaking after the race Sainz said the incident with Perez was “a number one priority that we need to talk with the FIA.”

Sainz pointed out that because Perez slowed to let him past at the restart, both ended up further behind race leaders Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen than they should have been.

“Basically Checo lost the opportunity to fight with me on the restart and I lost the opportunity to fight with Max for not giving up their position during the Safety Car,” he said.

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“We had a lot of laps to do it. The FIA didn’t allow us and I think for the sake of racing on the sake of Formula 1, these kind of things, they need to happen quicker and they need happen more efficiently.”

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in pictures
F1’s rules require drivers to maintain position during Safety Car periods. However during last year’s race at the same circuit Verstappen allowed Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton to pass him prior to a restart following a discussion with former FIA F1 race director Michael Masi.

Sainz pointed out that failing to do the same this time gave an opportunity for other drivers, such as fifth-placed George Russell, to pass him.

“We created a mess that for me is unnecessary, given the fact that we did six laps behind the Safety Car and there were millions of opportunities for Checo to let me by and have a good fight at the restart.

“If I would have got passed by Russell for example, what would we have done? Would Checo have had to let by Russell and me, which would have been tremendously unfair for him too? Or then Checo doesn’t give me back the position because there’s Russell in between me and him and it’s tremendously unfair for me?

“So I don’t know, it’s just these kind of things that as a sport we need to keep getting better at because I think we need to simplify things and just make it more quicker and easier for everyone to understand and even for the drivers to go racing with a much clearer mind.”

Sainz previously criticised the handling of the final-lap restart in Abu Dhabi when Masi made the unprecedented move of only allowing a selected number of lapped cars to rejoin the lead lap. The Ferrari driver, who was running third at the time, was left behind a pair of backmarkers, while the five lapped cars between second-placed Verstappen and race leader Hamilton were moved aside. He said that decision cost him a chance to fight for a win.

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68 comments on “Unhappy Sainz wants to know why FIA “didn’t allow” earlier position swap with Perez”

  1. He is absolutely right and he totally lost the momentum to Verstapen.
    I don’t get why they did that really, because of the last year finish?

    1. What’s it got to do with last year?

      1. It’s got everything to do with last year.

        The Sporting Regulations do not explicitly or implicitly permit passing user the safety car in this scenario. Consequently, the Race Director does not have the power to instruct such a move. Nor do the Stewards.

        Last year there was a Race Director who on occasion applied a liberal interpretation of the Sporting Regulations, presumably with the intent to “keep the show going”, which resulted in a review of the role and the individual being removed from the role.

        I doubt the new Race Director or Stewards will be taking any action or decision that is not in 100% compliant with the Sporting Regulations, no matter how logical it may appear to an external observer to do so.

        1. What the stewards should have done is given Perez a drive through penalty which is perfectly acceptable penalty for the offence he committed. Absolutely no reason not to penalise him given he did unfairly rob Sainz of an opportunity to race Verstappen at the restart. They’re still refusing to follow the rules and apply the correct penalties. Incidentally they should have penalised Leclerc for straight lining the corner in the last few laps to stay on the back of Verstappen thus gaining an unfair advantage. Fed up of this obsession with not penalising drivers.

          1. Really ??? Did you see how close they were at the line ??? Perez came out of pits and found himself in that position. He didn’t fight for it. He should have given the position to Sainz but just that.

          2. Perez couldn’t possibly know if he was in front of not, not a chance. That must be considered. This way of thinking is a product of our modern lives, sitting in front of PC a whole day, experiencing life through internet (I don’t mean only you, or you at all, but that’s where the root of this mentality lies I’m sure). Reality is often nuanced, and even regular courts always take that into consideration as part of their ruling. Perez couldn’t know and he didn’t do anything illegal. These things happen and will happen. This also wasn’t a safety issue, like double yellow flag etc.

      2. What @bob2 said prevented RC to give Sainz his position back if Massi was still there he would (But he and those rules were dropped)

        1. Well giving Sainz his position was the right thing to do under safety car
          And all of a sudden everyone missing Massi ?

    2. @bluechris
      I agree although the outcome would’ve probably still been the same even if he were already P3 on the restart.

  2. RandomMallard
    28th March 2022, 0:15

    I wonder whether the FIA message about not telling teams to give positions back had anything to do with this. If they followed a hard-line interpretation of that, they essentially left Red Bull to decide whether or not, and when, to give that position back. And of course RB could claim that they couldn’t do it under SC unless instructed by Race Control, but of course Race Control won’t give that message. Maybe something that needs to be looked at in the future…

    1. According to Rbr there was contact with RD about this. The difference was less than 0.1s so not noticeable for perez.
      The RD gave the advice to swap.

  3. Still really poor officiating by the FIA.

    The safety car line decision was cut and dried and could have been made within moments.

    Decisions on safety cars and pit lane closures were also unnecessarily slow.

    1. You know this isn’t allowed anymore ……

      Solution is for the future to move that line a bit to much further after pitexit that line was hard to see for the drivers to decide who was first.

      I found then rather fast pitlane closer was because of cars were pushed before that you could pass the cars there.

      1. SC lines locate where pit entry & exit lines begin & end respectively on all circuits, so moving that would require making the exit line either longer or shorter. @macleod

        1. @jerejj your right it’s only in a corner and it could be beter on a straight spot just a bad design.

      2. You know this isn’t allowed anymore ……

        Of course it is. Perez overtake Sainz, race director could make him do a pass trough pits next turn.

        Lapped cars for example can overtake. The race director have power to do what he wants.

        This was unfair to Sainz and even to Perez while as usual protecting Verstappen.

    2. @David The SC call preceded by a brief VSC wasn’t unnecessarily slow.

  4. Race control slipping up badly. Where is the improvement? They made a proper mistake here. Abu Dhabi was a train wreck of an execution in order to correct a bad initial call, here race direction scored an own goal. Allowing Perez to illegally overtake a car is a problem as there was a clear benefit. Perez had to have been ordered to give back the position asap or else penalty because in the end it was worth it. The restart unlike abu dhabi’s could have genuinely been totally diferent we just won’t know. Perez made sure he was not at risk of losing more at the restart and Max was covered. The other own goal was having drivers cut the track and only get a 5s penalty which again made the cut worth it as respecting the track would have lost them more time.

    1. Rules are different when passing between cars coming from pit and track so the solution was done was good as that are the rules now RC can’t chance the order during a safetycar.

    2. People can’t have it both ways.

      You can’t both argue that the rules should be applied according to the rule book and then also argue that the rules should be excepted when it “makes sense.”

      If the rule is wrong, then the rule needs to be addressed. There is, however, a time and place for that and it’s not in the middle of a race. Tough luck for Sainz, but rules are rules.

      1. Lapped cars are allowed to overtake and so I don’t see how reversing cars that are in the wrong order shouldn’t be allowed. But I agree, I think with what happened last year the clerc if the course and the stewards wanted to play it extra safe. Expect a different outcome next time around.

  5. In my opinion Perez deserved a penalty for that. It was quite close, but nevertheless Sainz was clearly the first one to cross the SC line. Perez effectively overtook Sainz during the SC period and cost Sainz the opportunity to overtake Verstappen when the SC period ended.

    I’m pretty sure Perez hadn’t been penalized if he gave the position back during the SC period, but obviously it wasn’t in Red Bull’s interest to do that.

    1. @hotbottoms Not according the rules between driver on track and exiting pit is slightly different then 2 drivers on track.

      As Perez gave the spot back right after SC ended there was nothing to give an penalty on.

      I’m pretty sure Perez hadn’t been penalized if he gave the position back during the SC period, but obviously it wasn’t in Red Bull’s interest to do that.

      But that is not allowed anymore with the new improvements (with the old rules RC could change the order but with the new rules RC isn’t allowed anymore) during SC Sainz can’t pass Perez even if Perez wanted it Sainz would get a penalty.
      Was this in Red Bull interest ? No Perez had to give the spot back it’s not that Sainz could attack Max as his pace was much slower on the hard tyre maybe one the medium he could.

      1. @macleod

        But that is not allowed anymore with the new improvements (with the old rules RC could change the order but with the new rules RC isn’t allowed anymore) during SC Sainz can’t pass Perez even if Perez wanted it Sainz would get a penalty.

        I admit that I haven’t read the rule book in detail regarding this, but I’m not sure if the situation is as clear as you say. Perez didn’t maintain his position in the first place – he was in the wrong position the whole SC period. I don’t think the stewards would’ve penalized Sainz if Perez let him through.

        What if a driver accidentally overtakes another driver later on during the SC period? Would the overtaken driver get a penalty, if he takes his position back? I don’t think so. For instance, Verstappen was driving at Leclerc’s side at the end of the SC period. What if he accidentally had overtaken Leclerc then, would Leclerc get a penalty for taking his position back? I don’t think so.

        1. @hotbottoms I agree, as soon as Perez overtook Sainz and declined to cede the position back immediately he should have been shown a drive through penalty. Fed up of this attitude of not penalising drivers for clear infringements.

        2. @hotbottoms and @slowmo This is not the same as 2 drivers on track Sainz exit the pit to join the track and looking at the rules the safetycar line is the most important as both raced to that line Sainz had a much slower speed but reached the line just a fraction sooner then Perez who was on a much faster pace so the rules will be much understanding for both drivers as Perez passed Sainz because of that. With the old rules the RCDirector could swap both drivers but with the new rules is that not possible. Even if Perez would let Sainz pass Sainz got a penaulty for overtaking during a safetycar periode you need a RC who would do that but they are not allowed it.

          1. @macleod the safety car line is a fixed point on the track, the drivers differing speeds to reach it is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter where that line is on the circuit, whoever crosses first is in the lead, Perez could have backed out immediately an let Sainz through but he didn’t hence from that point he should have been penalised. This is no different really that a driver overtaking another driver then refusing to give the place back, where it happened on the track is irrelevant.

            The race director/control is nothing to do with this, a rule was broken and they didn’t penalise Perez for it. That’s on the stewards. I agree that under the letter of the law they probably couldn’t swap Perez back under the safety car and that should perhaps be looked at as a tweak for the future but the point here is that one driver broke the rules and didn’t get a penalty for doing so because he gave the place back later which is wrong. Sainz had still been hampered because of Perez’s mistake and as such he should have been penalised, moving him back to his rightful place wasn’t really a penalty at all.

      2. Agreed that Sainz can’t pass Perez without breaking the rule but Perez had already passed Sainz under safety car breaking the rule. If Sainz had repassed Perez under safety would both have recived 5 second penalties.

      3. So if a car have a malfunction everyone just stop or go very slow behind it?

  6. To be fair to FIA, they seem to have the reaction time of a container ship with everyone. It’s not personal.

  7. How long does it take to watch a replay and see who crossed the line first? Poor showing by FIA and stewards on this one, very poor.

    1. The Dolphins
      28th March 2022, 2:37

      Shouldn’t even require a review, the line ought to be where there is a timing loop (or vice versa) and it should be automatically flagged.

      1. Or they could move the line a bit further or a bit back.

        1. They could but why? Both drivers, both teams, the stewards and the tv audience could see who was in front. FIA just didn’t react either because they are slow or they didn’t know what to do under safety car.
          They don’t even have to change the rules to reverse the position so I don’t know what was holding them back.

          1. Not so clear if you like to call it.
            It was less than 0.1s, so impossible for perez to see.

  8. Neil (@neilosjames)
    28th March 2022, 1:27

    RB left him there to protect Verstappen at the restart.

    Was clear to anyone with eyes that Sainz was ahead at the line and the position would need to be handed back. A simple instruction from the race director (no negotiations) should be used in situations like that.

    1. Agree, that’s why just swapping positions is not enough.
      It was under SC, no reason to take risks fighting for a position, for the future Race Control should say “don’t fight under SC in similar situation, if there is a a disagreement we will check it and fix it before SC end”.
      Instead now they they are encouraging teams to do what RB did, because they actually got an advantage.

  9. By the end of the year we’re gonna realize that Masi may not be as bad as we thought…

    1. Two races post Masi and already the decision making has been vastly superior. The decisions taken with the VSC and safety cars in the race were excellent and the rules were followed to the letter for the most part. I thought Perez should have been penalised but ultimately that’s on the stewards and not the race director to decide. Masi ignored the rules on several occasions because he thought the show would be better for not following them and that is just not sustainable for a sport.

    2. Massi wouldda red flagged it lol he is no better woulda ham haters iin ruins tho

  10. Amateur hour from the FIA and race control. They’ve twisted themselves up so far in regulatory knots they can’t even see what their job is. In any other racing series on the planet, it would clearly be race control’s purview to establish the correct order on a restart.

    1. I am assuming you haven’t seen F2 race direction then which is far more amateurish and illogical. Seems as if most FIA officials are paralysed over the course of a race, digging through resolutions to find something by which time it is too late to do anything.

  11. Teams need to know the rules and follow them. If they don’t, than FIA and stewards will apply the penalties.

  12. I get everyone’s point on this and yes Sainz was disadvantaged here, but the matter is Perez tried to make the line before Sainz did, it was close, he ended up in front and subsequently for safety reasons you cannot overtake. A safety measure that instigates a single line of cars to protect marshals. You would think that the momentum after the track has been cleared and lapped cars are allowed to overtake would be a good though.

    1. +1 you said much beter then i could.

    2. A safety measure that instigates a single line of cars to protect marshals

      These tracks are several kilometers long. Incidents concern only a small portion of that length even if we account for recovery and cleaning vehicles on track (all of them controlled and monitored all the time, I would think).

      So there could be perfectly safe overtaking opportunities on other parts of the track. Why are then instructions like ‘relinquish position to car #whatever between turns 4 and 11’ not feasible (to give and to comply with)?

    3. Just like they do with all / any lapped cars. The rule is there. For sure it can (as it used to be in the past too) be applied to cars on the same lap as well.

    4. he ended up in front and subsequently for safety reasons you cannot overtake.

      Are you trying something of a joke?
      Cars go slowest possible under SC. Lapped cars can pass everyone under SC else isn’t even change of only 1 position in this case.
      Less imagine that a car has problem under SC and goes slow, everyone behind it have to slow down to 20 Km/h for example?

  13. I think we are going to miss Masi this year.

    1. I doubt. I’ve thus far been happier with, for instance, track limit enforcement which is more reasonable than in the last two seasons.

      1. @jerejj
        Given the role has been spitted between two race directors with no one whatsoever interfering and putting pressure on them and with the additional resources at their disposal (mission control). Failing to deal with a simple incident like the SC situation between Perez and Sainz is already a massive failure. I agree with you on track limits and I’ll be more than happy if they can prove wrong !

    2. I think we are going to miss Masi this year.

      Why things can’t be bad twice? Masi was bad and not only in last race and things continue to be bad.

  14. Maybe Sainz got a bit unlucky with that decision, but I’m not sure it was the FIA who made the call or RB just decided to wait after the restart. To be honest Perez was the one who was the most hurt and Sainz and the others lucky and gained a place. Masi would have been fair and given the 1st place back to Perez.

  15. Frankly, Sainz shouldn’t be complaining too much. He was only a danger to the leaders in his own mind (same as his complaints about Abu Dhabi last year tbh). He was only in front of Perez due to the fact he’d pitted under the SC anyway, otherwise Perez would still have been leading.
    If Perez had let him past undert the SC, he would have been penalised surely?

  16. Seems this track has its safety-car line in the wrong place. Same with the DRS detection – Max v Charles may have been really, really exciting for everybody but it’s ridiculous watching them stand on the brakes like that, someone’s gonna go over the back of another car before long.

    Solution (to many things) would be to go to Portimāo next year instead.

    1. @bullfrog SC lines are aligned with pit entry & exit lines.
      DRS detection could perhaps locate after the last corner, although this way it’d be closer to the activation line.

  17. Such a basic failure of the rules as they are. Immediate rule change required – timing loop on the safety car line and/or an overhead camera to allow for instant judgement, then a notification from race control to swap positions before SC ends in a certain sector of the track that is clear of the incident.

    That was all extremely messy and baffling that this hasn’t been discussed as a potential outcome before. Sainz is 100% right – he should have been 3rd and trying to overtake Verstappen, and not have been vulnerable to the 5th place driver.

    1. An overhead camera is difficult without a roof above. Timing loop, I’m unsure how this would necessarily help.

      1. @jerejj would it need a roof or just a framework bridge over the track to support a camera? Don’t indycar have something similar? Although if you just put a timing line there you wouldn’t need a camera – the reason being to provide instant information to race control so they can make a quick instruction to swap the places back in a sector where it is safe to do so. Perez may not have known he was behind as it was so close, so by having a quick definitive answer with live timing showing who crossed the line first, that information could be passed quickly and safely to the teams and drivers. I’m baffled it isn’t set up like this already.

        1. It didn’t take Sky long to have synchronised in car shots that clearly showed Sainz was ahead. No need for any further tech – it was clear as day. But then, as the rules prohibit passing under a safety car, nothing could be done until the SC had finished. As usual, knee-jerk rule changes lead to unintended consequences…

          1. Sainz was unfairly disadvantaged at the restart. Is that because it’s unsafe to change positions during the SC? What about when lapped cars are allowed to unlap? Why can’t the same apply to drivers out of position? After incident cleared and before the SC period ended, why couldn’t they swap positions then?

            Regarding the tech, what if there are millimetres in it and the still frame doesn’t show clearly? Live timing would make it definite.

      2. @oweng cc @jerejj
        I agree, I am surprised that this is not the case already. I assumed there is a timing loop at SC2 and that that data would be used by race control to set the correct running order. A timing loop right at pit out is standard practice in the US, where the pit lanes are generally wide enough for cars to race each other two or three abreast, and the instantaneous data can be shown on the broadcast; obviously, SC2 would be the relevant line here.

  18. Chris Horton
    28th March 2022, 9:50

    Sainz is absolutely correct.

    I don’t believe it was the case here, but there is now huge incentive for a team to illegally pass a rival knowing they’ve lost the race to the safety car line, if they have another car ahead (ie Max). It provides protection to that car, and also provides it with an opportunity to attack without potentially defending from behind.

    Clear advantage to Red Bull, clear disadvantage to Ferrari and Carlos.

    Despite overtaking not being allowed under the safety car, a ‘position correction’ is not an overtake. Overtakes are dangerous because they’re done at speed, on the limit of control. The race director knows precisely where the incident causing the safety car has taken place, probably over 80% of the circuit is utterly risk free for the ‘position correction’ to take place.

    It’s nonsense.

  19. Perez is the wingman and he played his role, just like when he was retired during the final race last season.

    1. This has nothing to do with being a wingman Perez was unlucky with the SC that’s it. But I agree he is the wingman until he somehow manages to get in a championship position with Max behind.

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