Sainz blasts 'unfair' Abu Dhabi GP restart under the safety car

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz blasts ‘unfair’ Abu Dhabi Grand Prix restart under the safety car, saying the unique circumstances behind last lap showdown which denied Lewis Hamilton the F1 world title also ‘nearly cost him a podium’

  • Carlos Sainz finished in third place for Ferrari at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
  • But the Ferrari driver claims the late safety car put him at an unfair disadvantage
  • Sainz was forced to pass backmarkers after restart unlike Max Verstappen
  • The Spaniard was also forced to defend his podium spot from rivals around him 

Carlos Sainz has weighed in on the safety car row that played a massive role in deciding the Formula One world championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

A safety car was called out on to the circuit on lap 54 with just four laps left following a crash by Williams driver Nicholas Latifi that bunched the pack up.

It allowed Max Verstappen to pit for much fresher tyres and pass Lewis Hamilton for victory following a controversial last lap restart to snatch the world title from the Brit in dramatic fashion.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz gives a thumbs up after claiming third place at the Abu Dhabi GP

The race looked set to finish under the safety car where no overtaking is allowed, before race director Michael Masi made an unusual call to allow backmarkers to unlap themselves in between Hamilton and the Dutchman and set up a final lap showdown, with the safety car having also been called in. 

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz finished third on the podium for Ferrari but was not afforded the same treatment, having to pass backmarkers in front of him following the restart, while also protecting his podium from rivals around him.

Radio messages from his car at the time of the safety car deployment have revealed that he believed it would have been unfair to restart the race from that point due to it handing out unfair advantages.

The Ferrari driver though was put under severe pressure on the final lap following the controversial restart under the safety car

The last lap saw Max Verstappen (left) pounce to overtake Lewis Hamilton and win the world title as he is congratulated by his former Toro Rosso team-mate

The Spaniard said: ‘I think it would be unfair to restart this race. We should stay behind the safety car.’

After his race engineer acknowledged his message, Sainz added: ‘It gives a massive advantage to some people.’

The 27-year-old clarified his comments further after the race, saying: ‘It was certainly a very strange situation for me.’

‘I was obviously battling with Valtteri [Bottas] and the Alpha Tauris behind with medium tyres while I was on very used hard tyres.

There was much controversy after Verstappen, on much fresher tyres, was allowed to swoop past a helpless Hamilton on the final lap following the quick restart under the safety car

‘At the beginning, I was told they would not be allowed to un-lap themselves, the group in front of me, then it was decided to un-lap themselves and some people un-lapped themselves but there was still, I think, an Aston Martin and a McLaren, Ricciardo, between the two leaders and myself.

‘I’ve never had it before, having to restart the race with these two guys in front of me while fighting for a P3.

‘I believe it was a strange one and something to look at because it was just very strange to see and it nearly cost me a podium, to be honest.’

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