McLaren blind Carlos Sainz with flow-viz paint

Ferrari and McLaren look to have very similar pace at the 2023 Japanese GP, after a bizarre incident.

Carlos Sainz had to deal with a rather bizarre situation after exiting the pits in the opening stages of Free Practice 1 at the Japanese Grand Prix, after he was blinded by flow-viz paint.

The Singapore Grand Prix winner exited the pits in FP1 behind McLarens, which had been covered in flow-viz paint to allow the Woking-based side to receive data regarding the MCL60’s downforce and aerodynamics.

Due to having exited behind the painted McLaren, Sainz’s helmet became covered in the flow-viz paint, as the McLaren sped away after exiting the pits.

Sainz instantly informed Ferrari of the unusual situation, which could’ve ended considerably worse.

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Flow-viz paint is known to reduce grip when on a tyre, something which is far from ideal at a high-speed venue like Suzuka.

The Spaniard remained calm and relaxed, although it wasn’t too long until some started to make fun of the flow-viz situation.

Formula 1 tweeted a video of the incident and captioned it: “It’s like a Mario Kart move from the McLarens.”

The British team were quick to respond with an image of one of their cars with Mario-themed bananas coming out of the exhaust and said: “New upgrades this weekend.”

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Ferrari comically replied to McLaren on Instagram, by noting that they only had “blue shells” at their disposal.

In Mario Kart, the blue shell takes out the leader of the race.

Away from Mario and back to Suzuka, Ferrari and McLaren both look very solid this weekend, based on their opening day performance.

Whilst reigning World Champion Max Verstappen was the clear pacesetter, the Ferraris and McLarens behind looked very close to each other.

Charles Leclerc ended Friday in second with Lando Norris in third, whilst Sainz had to settle for fourth.

Just under two-tenths separated Leclerc to Sainz, whereas Verstappen had an advantage of over three-tenths.

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Behind Verstappen, it does appear like it will be Ferrari versus McLaren for the podium places; however, George Russell also showed some promising pace.

The same can’t be said for Lewis Hamilton, who ended FP2 in 14th.

However, as has been seen with Mercedes several times this season already, significant improvements can be made overnight quite easily by the Germans.