Sainz suggests rule changes needed after Abu Dhabi controversy

The finish to the 2021 championship was marred with Safety Car controversy in Abu Dhabi.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has spoken on the controversy surrounding the finish to the 2021 championship, suggesting that a red flag would have been the fairer option after Nicholas Latifi’s crash.

Sainz was involved in an enthralling final lap at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December, battling with Yuki Tsunoda and Valtteri Bottas on his way to his fourth podium of an extremely impressive debut season with the Scuderia.

This came after race director Michael Masi triggered controversy by allowing a limited number of lapped runners to overtake the Safety Car ahead of the final lap, leading to a last-gasp Max Verstappen overtake to take his maiden title from Sir Lewis Hamilton.

READ: Rival team reportedly asked FIA to block Ferrari SF21 test

Karun Chadhok has recently pointed out that a brake fire on the Williams following Latifi’s accident extended the Safety Car period, leaving Masi in a precarious situation so late on.

As a result of that, there was no time to red flag the race and get the cars back round to the grid again, but Sainz would have liked to be in amongst the battle for the win on the final lap – and a red flag restart might have facilitated that.

“I would have liked to have been behind them but with the lapped cars I couldn’t fight for the first win, especially if they crashed,” he told Marca.

Further, the 27-year-old maintains that a suspension of the race would have proven the least contentious way to set up the final lap finish.

“For Hamilton it would have been fairer to have a red flag, maybe it would have been fairer to have a red flag at the end of the race with both of them at the same time, but the regulations don’t require it in that context if there is not too much dirt on the track, etc.”

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The FIA are currently conducting an investigation into how the closing events of the race panned out the way they did, and the Spaniard opines that the rules of the sport have to change to allow for more transparency and consistency.

“That’s why we have to analyse what happened, because I think it was a bit unfortunate to be in that position,” he suggested.

“Sometimes the consistency in the application of the rules has been controversial and needs to be reviewed even though not everyone is going to be happy, but I think some of them need to be clarified and make the sport more understandable and consistent.”

Hamilton’s future has been uncertain given his silence since the race at the Yas Marina Circuit, but the Ferrari driver would like to have him on the grid this year.

READ: Schumacher focused on Haas despite possibility of racing with Ferrari in 2022

“I hope Hamilton doesn’t retire, I want to continue competing with him, he’s one of the best in history and I want to continue sharing the grid with him,” he said.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz at the Saudi GP 2021.v1

Sainz ended the 2021 championship fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, while he and team-mate Charles Leclerc guided the Maranello team to third in the Constructors’ Standings.

Ferrari will reveal the car they hope can help them compete more closely with Red Bull and Mercedes on 17 February.

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