Ahead of the returning Singapore Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz has raised his concern on the width of some pitlanes at venues on the calendar, following a third reprimand at the Dutch Grand Prix.
The Spaniard has staggeringly been slapped with three penalties this season for being released unsafely, more than any other driver this year.
His most recent penalty for an unsafe release came at Zandvoort, where the Ferrari driver was released unsafely into the path of Spanish compatriot Fernando Alonso.
This came during the chaos which followed Valtteri Bottas’ retirement from the race, which resulted in a late Safety Car.
Sainz was awarded a five-second time penalty for the incident, but felt it was unnecessary after deeming he was forced to brake in front of Alonso due to a mechanic of former team-mate Lando Norris running into the Spaniard’s “exit line”.
This penalty annoyed Sainz “because I took avoiding action, they give you a penalty – I find this very frustrating and I will speak with the FIA now because I don’t understand it.”
Sainz was also awarded a reprimand for an unsafe release at the French and Bahrain Grand Prix, with the one at the season opener again involving Alonso.
Sainz has called for wider pitlanes, with the Ferrari driver adamant it’s a “safety issue”.
“It was clearly safe with Fernando but then I had to hit the brakes to not hit a McLaren mechanic that ran into my exit line and it was this braking that generated the unsafe release, if you can call it ‘unsafe’,” said told Motorsport.com.
“I was clearly frustrated by it because I thought I had saved someone’s life and not generated a dangerous situation.”
The Spaniard has now called on Formula 1 to make pit lanes wider, saying aside from the penalties, it is a safety issue.
“Absolutely, I think it’s something that is not talked about enough, that we go to pit lanes during the year that are definitely too tight,” he said as per Autosport.
“And we need to improve safety for the mechanics, because we forget that those people wearing suits and helmets during the pit stops are in the middle of cars going at 80kph, and they are centimetres apart from incidents and from very dangerous situations.
“And I feel Zandvoort’s a great track, I want to go back there every year. And I want to keep racing at Zandvoort, Singapore, Budapest, but I’m talking about narrow pit lanes.
“We need to think about the mechanics and how tight everything is in there, because it’s just too tight. And I think we need to improve the safety.”
Sainz’ concern about safety in the pitlane comes as a result of the 28-year-old being worried that “one day something” bad will happen.
“We talk a lot about car safety, circuit safety,” Sainz added, “but in the pit lane I’m concerned that one day something would happen if we keep having these narrow pit lanes and so much going on, especially when there’s multiple pit stops going on at the same time.”
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl thinks Sainz is being somewhat ridiculous over his calls for pitlanes to be widened.
The McLaren boss admits that a tight pitlane is simply “part of the challenge” of certain GPs, whilst also taking a swipe at Sainz by explaining that “all the other teams” dealt with the tight pitlane with “nothing happening”.
“It is a tight pit lane which obviously brings some challenges with it but at the same time, all the other teams managed well with nothing happening,” Seidl said as per GPFans.
“Of course, this brings a bit of uncertainty into the game, this tight pit lane, because pit stops were definitely a bit slower and other cars that were also lucky and could do a pit stop without anyone around them.
“It is part of the challenge, it is not just on this track.”