Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz maintains that, while it is important for the FIA to learn from the mistakes made in December, Formula 1 needs to “move on” from the controversy of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Sir Lewis Hamilton was denied his eighth world championship on the final lap of the final race of 2021 when a controversial Safety Car restart decision by now former race director Michael Masi led Max Verstappen to execute a dramatic move for the title.
Masi has since been removed from his role as race director by new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, and Safety Car protocol has been changed to dictate that “all” lapped cars are to be permitted to pass the Safety Car at race control’s discretion instead of “any” of them.
Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz has recently opined that these changes will do little to appease fans that are still looking for answers but, while Sainz agrees that an “explanation” is needed, he maintains that it is time to “move on” ahead of the first race of the season in Bahrain this weekend.
“I think it’s important to have a full explanation, and then put it behind, close the chapter and move on,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s not normal that in March 2022 we are still talking about December and it’s time for the sport to move on but obviously to have a clear idea of what exactly happened.”
Ferrari looked one of the more impressive teams of pre-season testing, setting 788 laps in Barcelona and Bahrain as Charles Leclerc went quickest on the second day in Spain before Carlos Sainz had set the fastest time on the second day proper in Sakhir, only for Kevin Magnussen to go quicker during Haas’ extra hour due to their freight troubles.
They also seemed to be able to find a way to negotiate their way through the “porposing” issue which appeared to affect everyone, so it has been suggested, particularly by Mercedes, that the Scuderia should be the quickest this season.
Sainz was asked if he would feel disheartened should this eventuality not transpire.
“It wouldn’t be a disappointment but we obviously want to be in the fight,” he replied.
“Our team boss [Mattia Binotto] has said it many times [that we] want to be back fighting. Whether you win it or not in the end it’s competition, it’s whether you manage it or not.
“We want to be back fighting and that’s the target for this year.”
The Spaniard is aware of the areas that need improvement after the six days of testing under the new technical regulations, and awaits everyone’s true pace this weekend.
“I think we are at a good point of understanding,” he explained.
“We had a very good pre-season testing with zero reliability issues that allowed us to understand the car and move forward.
“We’ve already spotted a couple of places we know we need to improve compared to other teams, and we are working on that so that’s a good direction, now it’s time to see how everyone has been hiding.”
Mercedes’ George Russell has previously pinned the favourites tag on the Scuderia, and Sainz dismissed this as “typical” Silver Arrows mind games.