Carlos Sainz ‘keeping thoughts to myself’ on F1 race director situation

Jon Wilde
Carlos Sainz talking into a microphone. Montreal, June 2022.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz talks into a microphone during a press conference. Montreal, June 2022.

Carlos Sainz has refused to be drawn on the latest instalment in F1’s race director saga that has transpired since the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Spaniard found himself to be a central figure during events at a soggy Suzuka as he crashed out of the race on the opening lap, triggering a red-flag period that lasted for two hours until the rain was considered to have eased enough for a resumption.

The delay, and the decision to start the race on time, was one bone of contention, while another was the deployment of a recovery crane onto the wet circuit amid low visibility to recover Sainz’s stricken Ferrari even though cars were still passing the scene.

Responsible for all of that was race director Eduardo Freitas, who had been alternating in the role with Niels Wittich this year after Michael Masi’s sacking in February following the controversial climax to last season in Abu Dhabi.

It subsequently emerged at the United States Grand Prix that Freitas will not work at any further F1 races this year, Wittich presiding over the three that now remain.

Pierre Gasly, who was the first driver to express his anger that a recovery crane was on track at the same venue where Jules Bianchi had suffered ultimately terminal injuries in 2014, revealed he and Freitas had exchanged views about the matter twice at Suzuka. The Frenchman claimed he had been told a crane on the circuit was “normal”.

Carlos Sainz on Japanese GP formation lap. Suzuka October 2022.
Carlos Sainz's Ferrari on Japanese Grand Prix formation lap. Suzuka October 2022.

Sainz, asked about the race director situation during a press conference in Austin, decided to bite his tongue.

“I’ll keep my thoughts to myself on that one, and I’ll let the FIA know what is my preference,” said Sainz, who made a second consecutive opening-lap exit at the Circuit of The Americas after being hit by George Russell’s Mercedes.

“But I really trust the FIA are doing everything they can do to keep improving.

“I won’t lie, it’s been a tough year for them and we all want progress and we all want to go in the right direction, and we will do everything we can to help them.”

The decision to revert to a single race director was part of a series of changes the FIA promised to implement following what was a rather chaotic Japanese Grand Prix, which had to be shortened in distance due to the time limit in which the race had to be completed – and confusion reigned afterwards over whether Max Verstappen had secured his second Drivers’ title or not.

The FIA report was announced just before the US Grand Prix, leaving little time for the racers to digest it before becoming immersed in events at COTA, and thus discussions between them were postponed until the Mexican Grand Prix drivers’ briefing.

“We all decided to postpone the Suzuka talks to Mexico due to a lot of drivers not having the time to read the paper, and have these three or four days to read it and comment with our teams and everyone involved to see what other ideas we can come up with,” explained Sainz.

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