Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has spoken of his confusion over an unprecedented Safety Car situation at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Sainz secured his fourth podium finish of the season in Abu Dhabi, narrowly besting Yuki Tsunoda and Valtteri Bottas on the last lap, to take fifth in the Drivers’ Championship.
However, the last-gasp drama which saw Max Verstappen snatch the title away from Sir Lewis Hamilton did not sit right with a handful of drivers and many F1 fans.
Sainz said that he found the Safety Car restart “strange” and noted that it almost cost him a podium.
“It was certainly a very strange situation for me; I was obviously battling with Valtteri [Bottas] and the AlphaTauris behind with medium tyres while I was on very used hard tyres,” he said.
The 27-year-old was left wondering why a limited number of lapped cars were allowed through past the Safety Car, affirming that he has never seen anything like it as a racing driver.
“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.”
Sainz questioned the fairness of the end of the race, saying: “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.”
The Ferrari driver’s podium saw him snatch fifth in the standings away from Lando Norris, while the Scuderia sealed third in the Constructors’ Championship after a season-long battle for the position with McLaren.