Sainz blames “unacceptable” pre-race oil spill on grid for turn one crashes

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Carlos Sainz Jnr described the state of the grid at the start of the Las Vegas Grand Prix as “unacceptable” following an oil spill before the race.

A classic car which was supposed to carry Lewis Hamilton around the circuit during the pre-race drivers’ parade suffered an oil leak which coated the left-hand side of the grid with slippery fluid.

Despite the efforts of the F1 and track workers to soak up as much of the fluids as possible using cement dust, the race began with large patches of the inside of the circuit covered in dust.

Sainz was one of several drivers involved in incidents at the first corner. The Ferrari driver spun after hitting the rear of Hamilton’s Mercedes, while Fernando Alonso also spun after losing control of his Aston Martin through the first corner.

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“I saw a lot of oil from the cars that we used to do the drivers parade, which is another thing for the FIA to look at, because it is not fair that all the oil was on the inside line,” Sainz said.

“Apart from the dirty track already being there, on top of that, we put cars that are leaking oil into the track one hour before the race – it’s unacceptable. That probably caused a lot of the crashes into turn one.”

Sainz said he was especially cautious approaching the first corner but found even less grip than he anticipated.

“You never expect it to be so bad,” he said.

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“I just touched the brake, not even hit it and the tyres were locked. I didn’t even brake that late, I braked around the 100 metre board but arriving 100kph slower than on a quali lap. The cold tyres probably also played a role. It was absolutely shocking, lap one, and I think we all struggled.”

Despite facing the wrong way at turn one, Sainz eventually recovered through the race to finish in sixth place after pitting under the early Safety Car.

“After lap one and being nearly dead last to come back for a P6 was definitely a good comeback and damage limitation,” he said. “I did everything I could. It was an issue also with the graining in traffic, it was almost impossible not to open the graining following other cars.

“We couldn’t overtake people because of trying to protect the engine. We also had to protect the tyres with the graining. So it was never going to be an easy race, an easy comeback. So to make it all the way back from nearly dead last to be P6 has to be a good day.”

Sainz’s team mate Charles Leclerc battled for the win during the race. Sainz says he lamented the grid penalty he received after damage sustained by hitting a loose water valve cover during the opening night of practice.

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“Obviously I’m regretting not to be able to be up there fighting for the win because it looked like this weekend that the car was at least able to do a podium,” he said. “It would have been a fun race.”

Race winner Max Verstappen also went wide at the first corner as he passed Leclerc. He was later penalised for the incident.

The Red Bull driver also said action should be taken to prevent similar spills in future. “The oil spill was not ideal,” he said. “It was a classic cars, from the driver’s parade.

“So that’s maybe something that we have to look into because it’s a bit of a shame that happens. I had to steer bit left of it at the start.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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9 comments on “Sainz blames “unacceptable” pre-race oil spill on grid for turn one crashes”

  1. Oh poor Sainz, but don’t you see, a turn 1 spectacle is exactly what people pay for… I’m not saying it’s planned, but for sure it wasn’t unwelcome. I’m not sure if it was deliberate but Danica Patrick let slip in the pre-race coverage that F1 is sports entertainment. Now where have I heard that before?

    1. but don’t you see, a turn 1 spectacle is exactly what people pay for

      only the netflix liberty nascar fans who are only interested in seeing ‘the big one’.

      they aren’t serious fans and there views shouldn’t be considered.

      real fans don’t want to see accidents and just want to see real, competitive racing on proper circuits without silly artificial gimmicks.

  2. Every picture I select tells me I’m the one who’s crashed…… none are loading.

  3. Not much to do about that with such a short notice.

    1. Except delay the start until it’s safe.

  4. didn’t anyone have a vacuum? I mean, that’s how the cement dust is supposed to work, not leaving it there after it’s soaked up the oil!

  5. What an unlucky weekend for sainz, and for the fans as well. Would have a been a better race with him starting second

  6. Maybe, if Verstappen used that excuse, he might have dodged a penalty??? ;-)

  7. I get his point though, this is a half billion dollar investment, and no one checked the parade cars for leaks?

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