Sainz blasts FIA for ‘strange’ Safety Car restart in Saudi Arabia

Sergio Perez was forced to give up his position to Carlos Sainz after the Safety Car restart in Jeddah.

Safety Car restarts have once again become the talk of the town in Formula 1 after Sergio Perez was told to allow Carlos Sainz to pass him in Saudi Arabia.

Having began the race in Jeddah on pole, Perez was comfortably leading the pack when he went for the undercut and pitted from the Mediums onto the Hards to take him to the end of the race.

However, Nicholas Latifi collided with the barrier at Turn 27 while the Mexican was on his out-lap, allowing Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sainz to pit in front of him.

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As the Spaniard exited the pitlane however, he was passed by the 32-year-old, but Sainz was deemed to have fully entered the racetrack by the time the overtake took place, and Perez therefore had to cede the position.

Instead of swapping during the Safety Car period though, the stewards told Perez to let Sainz go after the race had already restarted.

This meant that, while Leclerc and Verstappen shot off into the distance, the pair behind them lost a significant amount of time behind them sorting their positions out.

Sainz suggests that it would have been fairer on everyone had he been allowed to regain third before the restart.

“It definitely was very strange,” Sainz said after the race.

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“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 which 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.

“I knew that Checo was going to give me a position quickly and he couldn’t fight me because he was going to give me a position back. So in the end we created a mess that for me is unnecessary, given the fact that 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.”

The Spaniard maintains that drivers should go into green flag racing focused solely on wheel-to-wheel action, and has therefore called for a simplification of Safety Car protocol.

“It’s just these kind of things that, as a sport, we need to keep getting better at because I think we need to simplify things and just make it more quicker and easier for everyone to understand and even for the drivers to go racing with a much clearer mind,” he explained.

“The Safety Car line with Checo, this is our number one priority now that we need to talk about with the FIA because basically Checo lost the opportunity to fight with me on the restart, and I lost the opportunity to fight with Max for [Perez] not giving up the position during the Safety Car.

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“We had a lot of laps to do it. The FIA didn’t allow us and I think for the sake of racing and the sake of Formula 1, these kind of things need to happen quicker and they need to happen more efficiently.”

Niels Wittich was in charge of the race on Sunday after his predecessor Michael Masi was removed from his role as director following the contentious restart at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which allowed Verstappen to pass Sir Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to claim the title.