Carlos Sainz ‘concerned something would happen’ unless F1 widens the pit lanes

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso also collide in the pit lane. Netherlands September 2022

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso also collide in the pit lane. Netherlands September 2022

The guilty party in no fewer than three unsafe release incidents this season, Carlos Sainz has called on F1 to widen the pit lanes.

Sainz was reprimanded for an unsafe release into the path of Fernando Alonso in Bahrain, was handed a five-second penalty for the same infringement at the French Grand Prix and received another in Zandvoort when again Alonso had to slam breaks to avoid a collision.

In that instance, Ferrari released when it was a safe to do so but he then had to hit the brakes as a McLaren mechanic raced around Lando Norris’ car.

The Ferrari driver was frustrated with that penalty, saying “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.”

He added to “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’.

“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 the 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.”

Formula 1 heads to Singapore this weekend where the likelihood of a Safety Car or two means there is a good chance that at some point of the race the entire field will be making a pit stop within the space of a couple of laps.

“We talk a lot about car safety, circuit safety,” he 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 boss Andreas Seidl has little sympathy for Sainz’s complaints about his Dutch GP penalty.

“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,” he 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.”

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