Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

Why Sainz was in two minds over legality of Hamilton’s “tough move”

Formula 1

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Carlos Sainz Jnr admitted his radio complaints about Lewis Hamilton were intended to draw the stewards’ attention to the incident between them.

But after the race Sainz maintained that while he was prepared to accept the move as “hard racing”, he believes it was against the rules as they are written.

After the incident Sainz told his race engineer Riccardo Adami: “He touched me, he ran me off. Check the onboard.”

The stewards did not investigate the incident, which prompted a complaint from Sainz. “I don’t understand why there is a rule book and we don’t follow it,” he said on his radio.

Hamilton passed Sainz on the inside of turn one. The pair appeared to make brief contact and Sainz ran wide onto the run-off at turns one and two.

F1’s guidelines for drivers overtaking on the inside state that: “In order for a car being overtaken to be required to give sufficient room to an overtaking car, the overtaking car needs to have a significant portion of the car alongside the car being overtaken and the overtaking manoeuvre must be done in a safe and controlled manner, while enabling the car to clearly remain within the limits of the track.”

Speaking after the race Sainz said Hamilton had not allowed him to stay within the track limits. “I think he ran me off the track,” he told Sky. “Then we can think about or consider whether it’s hard racing or it’s legal.”

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Sainz indicated he believes drivers should be allowed to make moves like Hamilton’s but says the rules don’t allow them.

“If you follow the rulebook as it’s written, exactly, then I don’t think it was legal,” he said. “But if you ask me as a racer, I think it was tough move.”

He compared the move to his pass on Oscar Piastri during the Miami Grand Prix, where the pair made contact and Sainz was penalised.

“I’m just using the rule book, obviously, to all my advantage at the time, given that I also got a penalty for that in Miami,” he said. “So I’m just trying to search for consistency with the way the rules are applied, and just obviously making sure I was transmitting that to the FIA.”

However Hamilton insisted the pass had been legal. “It was pretty awesome for me,” he said. “I think it was clean.

“Ultimately he didn’t cover, fully, the inside line. He left the door open, which I went for. Late move up alongside him, I think we were wheel-to-wheel. I think he was still on the track so I left him room, as much as I could.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “Why Sainz was in two minds over legality of Hamilton’s “tough move””

  1. decide which is it rulebook or tough racing? if it suits you, rulebook convenience

  2. Carlos did a similar move to Charles as well so it was a bit hypocritical

  3. The part about claiming Hamilton should let him by is something I especially didn’t & don’t get, given he didn’t even leave track limits.

  4. Incidents lke this make me want to rip the radios out of the cars. I’m fed up of hearing “Its not fair, he pushed me”, hoping to get sympathy from the stewards.

    1. Its the F1 version of soccer players diving to get the refs attention.

      1. David, you are right, and professional footballers look pretty pathetic and childish when they do that too. A hand brushes against their shoulder and these professional athletes collapse in a heap holding their face and rolling around as if their nose has been broken and someone stamped on their nuts. It is utterly utterly childish. If a pro-footballer is that easily hurt, he shouldn’t be on the pitch. And I feel much the same when someone who is supposed to be one the elite group of drivers goes onto the radio wailing that he didn’t get his own way going round a corner and it is everyone else’s fault. Just drive the car and stop being such a prima donna.

    2. They are driving at 300 kph with emotions running high, so I cut them some slack in that regard. Same thing with Russel yesterday, once you’re beyond the heat of the moment you tend to rephrase certain things.

      1. Postreader, I can understand them getting heated, but they don’t need to vent it to the world over the radio. When someone cuts in front of me on the road and I have to slam on the brakes, I might well curse and rant to myself, but I’m quite capable of continuing to drive without phoning it in to the local radio station.

    3. To AlanD: You are correct, in car radios should be banned. However, a little nudge during the overtake is one of Hamilton’s techniques – just ask Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen. Did Hamilton scream, “He turned into me!” into his radio?
      The race stewards also need sorting out. Hamilton seems to be blessed in regard to their decisions.

    4. Agreed. Whining is already annoying and Carlos’ froggy voice makes it doubly so. I like Carlos and he’s part of an epidemic of whiny drivers. I think there should be a rule in which a driver can only make one complaint about another driver (per move) over the radio and then that’s it. A time penalty otherwise.

  5. Following the rulebook as written, Carlos Sainz hit two cars during the race, which is a penalty for each in theory. Fortunately for him, there are two unwritten practises which saved his race:

    – Team-mate collisions are generally handled in-house unless so serious that the stewards feel the wrath of a team manager would be insufficient penalty.

    – When two drivers in an accident both do something wrong (in this case, Carlos Sainz should not have hit Lewis Hamilton and Lewis should have left Sainz room for post-collision physics to play out), the potential penalties cancel each other out.

    Carlos has a point here, but it is less strong than he would he like or necessarily want it to be.

    1. Amazingly, his contact was way rougher than the lightest kiss Alonso got a penalty for, but nothing (and rightly IMO) for Sainz. It’s little wonder he thinks the stewards have a hard on for him. Meanwhile, you had another jump start penalty for an imperceptible movement while other drivers got nothing just because they had the nonsensical excuse of the transponder didn’t register it (Lando wasn’t even still in his grid box when the lights went out). I know they updated the rules, but what a mess they’ve been with all that and allowing drivers to ram each other.

    2. When two drivers in an accident both do something wrong (in this case, Carlos Sainz should not have hit Lewis Hamilton and Lewis should have left Sainz room for post-collision physics to play out), the potential penalties cancel each other out.

      I really hate this. I know it’s how it is, but it shouldn’t be IMHO. If both drivers have done something serious enough that they would be penalised without the actions of the other driver, both should be penalised. It’s stupid that of two drivers do something wrong then neither are punished for it.

  6. He should not complain because just before he moved twice while defending. Weaving is also not alowed

    1. Completely agree. SAI moved right twice to defend.

  7. An Sionnach
    24th June 2024, 1:49

    Lewis didn’t leave the space. If he doesn’t get penalised, he never will leave space. George showed how space can be left in this section, both with Max and with Lando. This type of driving hasn’t been characteristic of Russell. I would hope it’s an improvement and he’s getting better at keeping his head.

    Sainz’ move on Leclerc looks more complicated. He squeezed Leclerc first. Then Leclerc didn’t leave space.

    The rules around overtaking need to be understandable to drivers in real time and not something that’s difficult to work out even with replays and data afterwards. How’s about it goes back to the driver in front has the racing line and is entitled to hold it? It’s too often the case that the car ahead does not leave space to the car behind that’s technically far enough alongside, when the driver attempting to pass has no business being there in the first place. The rule should be that making a cavalier move that has no chance of success results in no success.

    1. Disagree. SAI moved to the middle on HAM and then moved more right. At that point HAM knows that SAI is too far right for how SAI originally setup for the corner. HAM jumped into the gap knowing SAI couldn’t turn in there. I also don’t understand your comment about a cavalier move that has no chance of success when in fact the move was successful.

      1. An Sionnach
        24th June 2024, 11:53

        I’ve reviewed both incidents using the onboards for all drivers. Before this I’d looked at the replay. From that, I had thought Sainz was cavalier trying to overtake Leclerc, first squeezing him and being part of the reason Leclerc could not offer him space. It looks a bit more understandable from his onboard, although he should have braked more to leave space for Leclerc, which he didn’t. Clumsiness?

        In the case of Lewis, it looked more complicated from the replay and I thought the contact was on the left edge of the track (meaning Lewis was technically to blame). Sainz moved right first on the straight, then left at the markers for the corner, where he turned in. His move to the left put him in a similar position to where he’d been to take the bend the lap before. The rule about weaving only applies on the straight, so I don’t think it applies here as he only moved to the right on the straight. From the onboards it looks like the contact was more in the middle of the track, however. I find it hard to see, but with neither driver to the extreme edge of the track when contact was made, I think it’s fair enough that the stewards left it this time, and I do not think Lewis was clearly to blame under the current rules, but neither was Sainz.

        I think my point about the rules still holds, however. From each of the onboards I don’t think anything looked particularly unreasonable, but there was contact and an investigation all the same. Going into the move it would be difficult for each driver to calculate who was going to be where and when exactly you have to leave this magical space. With the driver in front entitled to hold the racing line, Sainz would be clearly wrong in the first case (Leclerc was offline, but still ahead). Sainz would have been entitled to hold his line in the second incident. The person behind has to make the move. I think that’s more understandable when sizing up a move and it was the rule before there was all this overcomplicated stewarding of races. The rules should be simpler and require less of this kind of thing.

    2. “Lewis didn’t leave the space”

      And neither would Shui, Alonso, Vettel or Verstappen – who all just happen to have won most of the titles in the last 30 years.

      It was a great moment as a Lewis fan, as it clearly showed he’d still got it.

      In 2021 Max turned aggressive overtaking into an art form, which even had Lewis moaning – who thank goodness realised he needed to stop moaning and be just as aggressive. It led to arguably best Championship, in terms of quality, since 2005/6.

      Meanwhile the others can carry on with their polite overtaking and see where it gets them.

      1. An Sionnach
        24th June 2024, 12:02

        You have to leave space in certain situations, however. I don’t agree with this rule, but it is the rule now and a penalty is the outcome when you infringe on the rule, even if it is inadvertent and impossible to know about in advance. It wasn’t before and the driver in front could hold the racing line. I think this would be a better rule. Please see above for a correction on “the space” this time. I think the contact occurred in the middle of the track and both drivers were crossing each others’ paths. I think that means the current rules have nothing to say about this incident so the stewards were right to leave it.

        On Lewis, he has made contact with a lot of people over the last few years. He even has flicked into people when they are alongside on occasion. He doesn’t leave “the space” and lets the stewards sort it out. He is often very fortunate with the result of this, whereas others might get that penalty where they deserve it.

  8. I’m sure Fernando can explain to Carlos how it works regarding rulebooks, penalties and spanish drivers.

    1. Except he really meant English drivers get off all the time while other drivers don’t and that he specifically gets judged more harshly than most. I don’t think Hamilton deserved a penalty here, but judging by China, had this been Alonso passing Sainz, he would have certainly got a penalty.

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