Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2022

Hamilton’s tactics were “cheeky” but I’d have done the same – Sainz

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr accused Lewis Hamilton of “cheeky” driving when he was told to hand a position to Ferrari driver during their tussle over the opening laps in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The FIA told Mercedes that Hamilton should relinquish fourth place to Sainz after he cut the turn six chicane and stayed ahead of the Ferrari on lap one. Hamilton duly backed off at turns 10 and 11 on lap four, allowing his rival to pass.

However Hamilton re-passed the Ferrari on the next lap as they approached turn nine. Sainz said Hamilton deliberately chose a place to give up the position which would allow him to re-pass the Ferrari at the next DRS zone.

“Lewis jumped the chicane and he let me by, but he let me by in a cheeky way to then get my DRS and passed me again,” said Sainz.

The Ferrari driver later passed Hamilton again, but said he took more life out of his tyres and compromised his race strategy by doing so.

“I had to use a lot of my tyres to pass him back, which cost me quite a lot of race time, quite a lot of tyre usage,” said Sainz. “Which probably forced me a bit into a two-stop and from there on I was on a slower two-stop and couldn’t be in the fight for P2 today.

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Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Yas Marina, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pictures
However Sainz admitted he has exploited the ambiguity around how drivers should hand positions back to rivals on-track in the past.

“I’ve used that rule or that lack of clarity before, you know, so I’m not going to criticise at all Lewis for that because I would have done something similar,” said the Ferrari driver. “It’s just how it goes.

“You get the position at the start with a great move on the inside into turn six, the driver decides to cut the chicane and your race is compromised from there on because you know you’re fighting a car that you probably should have been ahead from lap one. But it’s how it goes.”

Despite his frustration, Sainz said “we have to be happy” with yesterday’s result. “In the end we achieved second in the constructors, second in the championship for Charles [Leclerc] which was the main target this race.”

“Overall good pace, good weekend in terms of pace, unfortunate about the start,” he added.

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2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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56 comments on “Hamilton’s tactics were “cheeky” but I’d have done the same – Sainz”

  1. Hamilton crashed atleast 6 times with other drivers this season.
    It is time that he learns to yield a position. Coz he is only looking for another Monza incident to happen.

    Reply moderated
  2. Ok, sure. As Sainz mentions, this is what race drivers tend to do – take every advantage they can get.

    1. That’s the essence of the race. If a racer doesn’t take advantage, he’s not a good racer.

  3. Was Hamilton told to give the place back because he left the track gained an advantage (ie gap to Sainz was bigger) or because he left the track and kept the position?

    1. Because he left the track to keep the position @oweng

      1. Wasn’t it the team that said to give it back and not the fia, so he didn’t actually have to

        1. That’s the way it works now. The race director gives the team the chance to give the place back, if they choose not to then it gets referred to the stewards.

        2. as an ex-race director you should know these stuff !?

          1. Well, masi got the fame as a race director that didn’t know the rulebook very well!

        3. Well, masi got the fame as a race director that didn’t know the rulebook very well!

          1. Didn’t mean to post this, but in answer to turbo, at the time I posted there were some connection problems on the site and it wasn’t going through.

  4. It was fun to see the same controversial incident as last year and to see how the stewards reacted. This year Lewis didn’t get away with it. First the stewards investigated forcing off track but that was ridiculous. Why not f.e. in Mexico when Lewis run Russel off track?. It was soon cleared but why did Lewis not get a 5s penalty instead he was asked to give the place back what he should have done directly himself. Waiting for the DRS to he activated and taking advantage is yet another example why we don’t need DRS at least not as powerfull as we seen this race.

    1. It wasn’t the same incident.

      Sainz’s overtake was fair. Verstappen’s last week and last year, simply wasn’t.

      That’s why the stewards cleared Sainz and not Verstappen.

      Contrary to your tone, it’s not a conspiracy where the Stewards are always lenient with Hamilton.

      1. I didn’t say Lewis always gets away with it. Max also got away with strange calls and other drivers as well. Last year a lot off calls were terrible and to be honest it’s a lot better this year.
        But you have to be fair the move from Sainz was almost an exact copy of last year. So yes the stewards must have thought of that controversial call last year but they handled it well.

        1. Last year was a late lounge my max which forced Lewis off, Sainz caught cold, and Lewis turned in late

          Reply moderated
      2. I guess there will always be an explanantion why Lewis = good and Max = bad. Pity

    2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      21st November 2022, 9:10

      The stewards I believe do not tell a driver he needs to hand the place back if you read the regulations. It is for the team to make their own judgement. If a place is not handed back then the stewards give a time penalty at some point.

      1. Exactly what I thought but did MB ask Lewis to give the place back or the FIA? But to be honest I preffer this above the time penalty’s

    3. Mercedes told Lewis to give back the position before the Stewards could make a decision. Lewis would have got a penalty if he didn’t give back the position

      Reply moderated
    4. Is wasn’t even close to the same, last year, Verstappen forced Hamilton off and never left a cars width for Hamilton which is why there was no penalty. This time Hamilton leapt off the track thinking Sainz was going to run into him but in actual fact Sainz had judged his line to perfection to leave just over a cars width and hence Hamilton didn’t need to leave the track. It was close and I could see why Hamilton didn’t want to risk contact but ultimately the correct decision was to give the place back to Sainz.

      The fact that Sainz couldn’t break the tow or defend afterwards was on him. Until the FIA mandate that if you give a place back you should spend one lap outside the DRS zone before you can overtake again then this will always happen.

  5. How exactly is it a cheeky tactic? As far as I’m aware if a driver ends up cutting that chicane (be they forced as was the case here or otherwise) then they rejoin where Hamilton did as it’s the safest place to do so (rejoining mid chicane would be ridiculous).
    What I’d call a cheeky tactic is diving from far too far back on someone whose committed to the corner, forcing them off track and then crying foul. I will at least grant Saniz that he made more of an active effort to make the corner, unlike Vestappen last year who only ever intended to push Hamilton off track.

    1. It’s time to let it go.

    2. Sainz did make the corner and left enough space, Hamilton unfortunately got spooked and left the track early though.

      1. He hardly got spooked, he had nowhere to go.

  6. I actually thought the way he handed back the position was not that cheeky. He did it somewhere halfway through the lap, and then had to follow Sainz all through the slow last sector and then only pass him on the next lap. It’s not as if he braked before a DRS detection zone, and then blasted past on the next straight. It does raise the question how long one should wait before being allowed to overtake again, but in this instance I thought it was fine.

    What was cheeky though, was cutting the chicane in the first place, to try and keep the position. I felt last year with Verstappen, he had less space and it was more borderline for him to cut the corner. This time, he could have ridden the kerbs a little and stayed mostly on track. Instead he tried his luck again by cutting the chicane, but not only did he have to give the place back, he may also have damaged his floor (although that is not 100% clear to me at this moment – his loss of performance directly after overtaking Sainz was puzzling, but given his pace for the rest of the Grand Prix that might just have been tyres).

    1. He did ride the kerbs, where he was forced to go by Saniz (he wouldn’t willingly go there), which is ultimately what forced him to go where he did (not to mention Saniz was on the left so he wasn’t able to go that way).

  7. I think the issue stems from the practice of forcing drivers off the track on corner exit, which is allowed if you’re on the inside and ahead. It becomes a problem where you’re in the first part of a switchback corner, because the driver who’s forced off basically has to choose between cutting the track (as Hamilton did, and Perez at Paul Ricard for example), or trying to make the next corner and risking a collision for which they will be blamed (as per Verstappen at Monza last year). The sausage kerbs make the problem worse as it means there is really no “good” outcome for the driver who is forced wide.

    I was, however, surprised that Hamilton was instructed to hand the position back by the FIA as my understanding (as was mentioned on Sky commentary) was that race control would no longer give those instructions. I think Hamilton was influenced by the belief that he would not be penalised, given recent stewarding decisions in his favour, and the fact that he was merely told to cede the position rather than given a penalty supports that.

    1. @red-andy I mostly agree, but i think if the driver ahead is borderline pushed off the track and were to eventually make contact similar to Verstappen/Hamilton in Monza, then they would not necessarily be penalised. I think it’s when the driver behind is overly aggressive and instigates the situation by forcing his opponent off and then making contact when both drivers try to stay on track that he would be blamed. In the case of yesterday’s incident, I don’t think Hamilton would be blamed if he tried to stay on track and made contact with Sainz, unless he had clearly lost the position by the second part of the chicane and was obligated to yield, or carried too much speed etc.

    2. Forcing another car off is explicitly not allowed.

      1. But than do you also think Lewis should have been investigated and pumished when he run Russel off track in Mexico? Personally I think these.moves are fine I’m not always sure about the rules but I think it’s allowed

  8. I thought it was up to the teams and drivers to hand a position back if it was gained in an unfair manner, and that the race diector did not make the call anymore.
    Apperently, the rule is changed back to how it was, which is strange.

    The situation seemed identical to last years, and he didn’t have to hand back the position then. Rules keep changing, which ruines the sport.

    1. This was last years
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uodhqLGblK8&ab_channel=SkySportsF1

      You’ll note Verstappen has run Hamilton off the track before the rumble strip and there isn’t even a hint of any cars width left for Hamilton on the exit. Sainz never even came close to touching the rumble strip on exit which is the crucial difference between both incidents. Sainz raced fairly and gave space, Verstappen not so much.

      1. I don’t think the rule states you have to leave a cars width on exit. If that is the case Lewis would not have been allowed in Mexico forcing Russel of track. You should stay in track limits and the overtake should be done in a controled way.

    2. The stewards weren’t involved. Mercedes pitwall asked Ham to give up the spot.

      1. @didaho Bono said to Hamilton “we’ve been told to give the place back” and the article suggests it was the FIA who did the telling. The stewards stopped investigating the incident as soon as the swap occurred, too, which further suggests it was done at their behest.

        1. @red-andy I’ve heard conflicting reports about who gave the instruction. I think it’s possible that it was Mercedes’ decision but they chose to phrase it to Lewis as if it was from the stewards to avoid any argument. The stewards dropping the investigation after Lewis gave up the place makes sense in either scenario because he had already corrected for any infringement.

        2. @red-andy The pitwall being told an incident is under investigation isn’t the same as being told to give the place back and, as in corner cutting cases like these, not even very much information – they all know what an investigable incident looks like – just not the result of any such deliberations.

  9. Apperently, the rule is changed back to how it was, which is…

    …Typical of F1.
    Flipping and changing things as they see fit – seemingly based on who is involved.

    1. I’m disappointed if they have rescinded the rule. I actually thought it was a sensible change that either the teams sort stuff themselves or risk it being referred to the stewards if they do nothing about it. It shouldn’t fall on the race director to make these calls, either give a place back or take your chances if you’ve been naughty.

  10. I can’t say I understand the reason why Hamilton was told to give the position back. It wasn’t Sainz’s corner to take the way he took it. The “you should push your brake pedal and stay back” directive to Hamilton’s driving is not clear to me. I’m sorry

    1. I really don’t understand the comments about not his corner or forcing off track. What Sainz did is called overtaking and we have seen it so.many times and this is what we want to see in racing. Hamilton left the door open and Sainz dived in the gap and got passed. You know whatbSenna used tonsay or do you only want to see DRS overtskes?

      1. There is overtaking then there is dive bombing a driver in a braking zone and running them off the track. What Sainz did was actually fair in the end as he left a cars width for Hamilton but it was clear that Hamilton felt there was going to be contact and left the track to avoid it. As it happens in this case he was probably wrong and as such was asked to give the place back.

        Leaving a door open as so many put it, does not give you the automatic right to take a corner however you like and push someone off the track which is a tactic we’ve seen other drivers use over the last couple of years which is why the new overtaking guidelines were introduced this year. What Sainz did was close to the edge but he left space and hence got his rewards when Hamilton was instructed to let him pass.

        1. you may want to watch some replay, cause Sainz left about 50 cm and no cars width

          Reply moderated
        2. I compared the footage and actually Max was further ahead in the apex of the corner than Sainz this year. I will wait for the verdict of Jolyan palmers analyses in the F1TV debrief but leaving a cars width in the exit of the corner is not defined in the rules. You have to stay on track and stay in control of the car.

    2. I could have seen it swinging either way

  11. I think as a few have said it just depends on the corner. If it was a hairpin type corner with concrete run off Hamilton would have just continued alongside Sainz.

    As its a chicane that would lead to a collision so the options are concede the corner or cut the chicane/kerbs (risking damage!) on the premise that you were forced off / avoiding a collision.

    As Sainz was judged to have done nothing wrong and Hamilton was under investigation I think the team may have taken the inititiative to tell Hamilton he had to give the place back to avoid a penalty even if the were not told to do so.

    Any 5 second penalty for this kind of offence is unsatisfactory. It may cost nothing or may cost multiple places if the field closes up. The penalty should always be places for me (i.e 1 for this kind of offence). If the driver doesn’t give it back during the race within a short time limit, he should lose a place at the end of the race (not a penalty in seconds). This will incentivise teams and drivers to right any wrongs as soon as possible.

    1. Yes, agree regarding the 5 sec penalty vs 1 place.

  12. Verstappen tried the exact same trick against Hamilton in Abu Dhabi last year, but Hamilton didn’t fall for it, so Verstappen threw his toys out and rammed Hamilton from behind out of petulant frustration. Either way, it’s a legitimate tactic under the current rules, provided you’re mature enough to accept when it doesn’t work.

    1. When did Max ram Hamilton from behind?

      1. I don’t remember well abu dhabi, but I wonder if he could be referring to brazil this year? Verstappen was trying to overtake hamilton around the outside, then made contact with hamilton slightly ahead.

  13. Poetic justice as the damage from pogo jumping in the runoff damaged the Merc floor and ended ruining your race. But it does not help Carlos who lost plenty of time and tyre life. Remember Spa 2008: you can’t give the position in a way that gives it back to you again. But it was before the DRS trick was available.

    Keep doing that and get plenty of DNF’s. Or worse. Real smart.

    1. I thought the corner cutting was a risky move, penalty aside, there was a big risk to end up like in spa, retiring on the spot, given what happened with the kerb.

  14. Great to see the bias confirmed.

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