Lewis Hamilton returned a place to Carlos Sainz early in the Abu Dhabi GP, though Sainz said Hamilton was “cheeky” in how he did it.
Sainz started the race from P4 with Hamilton P5, but it was Hamilton who got the jump on Sainz and was quickly shaping up a pass on Charles Leclerc in the other Ferrari.
But as Hamilton did that, Sainz took the opportunity to send it down the inside at the chicane, Hamilton taking to the run-off and keeping that place.
Initially Sainz was noted for forcing Hamilton off, before that switched to Hamilton leaving the track and gaining an advantage. No investigation followed as Mercedes told Hamilton to let Sainz through, which he did, though Hamilton made his way back past at the end of the second back straight.
Sainz says that Hamilton knew exactly what he was doing in this exchange on an evening where Ferrari saw off Mercedes to clinch P2 in the Constructors’ Championship, while Leclerc secured P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.
“I think we have to be happy, in the end we achieved second in the Constructors’, second in the Championship for Charles which was the main target this race,” Sainz told media after the race, including PlanetF1.
“My race was a bit compromised after the start with a problem with the clutch that we’ve had all weekend that I knew was going to cost me at the start, and then with Lewis, he jumped the chicane.
“He let me by, but he let me by in a cheeky way to then get me in my DRS, pass me again, and that meant that I had to use a lot of my tyres to pass him back which cost me quite a lot of race time, quite a lot of tyre usage, which probably forced me a bit into a two-stop.
“And from there on I was on a slower two-stop and couldn’t be in the fight for P2 today. But yeah, overall good pace, good weekend in terms of pace, unfortunate about the start.”
Sainz would make it clear that he was not criticising Hamilton, saying he would have taken advantage of the same grey area in the rules if the situation was reversed.
Instead, his frustration relates to how that move impacted his race.
“I’ve used that rule or that lack of clarity before you know, so I’m not going to criticise at all Lewis for that because I would have done something similar,” Sainz clarified.
“But it’s just how it goes you know, you get the position at the start with a great move down the inside into Turn 6, the driver decides to cut the chicane and your race is compromised from there on because you’re fighting a car that you probably should have been ahead of from lap one.
“But it’s how it goes, I had to use a lot of the tyres because of that and in a fight with Merc, they were pushing us a lot at the beginning to get us to use the tyres and Charles to do the tyre management, I couldn’t and this from there on dictated the strategy.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher