Ferrari's Carlos Sainz has branded his moment of confusion with Red Bull's Sergio Perez in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as an "unnecessary mess", given that six laps elapsed before he was given back his original position by the Mexican. Sainz popped into the pits for a change of tyres during the Safety Car intervention on Lap 16 of 50 and emerged from the pit lane directly alongside Perez, who had the inside line for Turn 2. Perez stuck to the line and ensured Sainz's way out of the corner was blocked off sufficiently to allow the Red Bull driver to emerge ahead as they accelerated. But, critically, Sainz had reached the all-important Safety Car line, on the outside of Turn 2, before Perez, meaning it was Sainz who was entitled to be ahead for the restart. The stewards confirmed they would look into the incident, but Red Bull, amid the potential risk of punishment, erred on the side of caution by instructing Perez to relinquish the position – but only doing so after the race had restarted. Perez lifted off the throttle on the run to Turn 4 on the first racing lap after the Safety Car, allowing Sainz through, but the Spaniard had already lost any chance he had to attack the other Red Bull of Max Verstappen on the restart.
Sainz: Perez had "millions of opportunities" to let me by
Sainz would go on to finish third, with Verstappen winning, and spoke of his frustration at the situation as he addressed the media afterward. "It definitely was very strange," he told media, including RacingNews365.com , in the post-race press conference. "I think, as a sport, we need to keep analysing these things, because we could simplify things so much more if Checo [Perez] would have just given me the position during the Safety Car. "It basically would have given me an opportunity to fight Max at the restart, and would have given Checo an opportunity to fight me to get the position, but what happened is that I was obviously fighting Checo, but I knew that Checo was going to give me a position quickly. "He couldn't fight me because he was going to give me the position back so, in the end, we created a mess that for me is unnecessary. "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."
Sainz wants to see F1's rules clarified going forward
With F1 making several rule changes over the course of the winter in a bid to make the regulations more transparent and enforceable, Sainz believes situations like these merit a closer examination in order to cut down on any confusion. "If I had passed by [George] Russell, for example, what would we have done?" he asked. "Would Checo have had to let Russell and me by, 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? "I don't know, it's just these kinds of things that, as a sport, we need to keep getting better at. "I think we need to simplify things and just make it quicker and easier for everyone to understand, and even for the drivers to go racing with a much clearer mind."