Carlos Sainz issues stern warning to F1 after Austria track limits farce

Oliver Harden
Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the Austrian Grand Prix. Styria, July 2023.

Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has claimed F1 cannot afford a repeat of the track limits farce at the Austrian Grand Prix after finding out about his penalty on the plane.

Track limits was a recurring theme throughout the Styrian weekend, with a massive 47 lap times – almost three times as many as the 2022 tally of 16 – deleted in qualifying.

The situation continued into the race as multiple drivers were hit with time penalties, before the FIA launched an investigation into more than 1,200 track limits offences over the course of the 71-lap race.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Carlos Sainz demands changes after Austrian GP penalty

The final classification was not made official until five hours after the chequered flag, with Sainz dropping from fourth to sixth after having 10 seconds added to his race time.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher at Silverstone ahead of this weekend’s British GP, Sainz has revealed that we was just taking off when he learned that his fourth place was under threat.

And after being furious with his penalty in Australia in April, he took his punishment on the chin after a challenging race in which he was not allowed to pass team-mate Charles Leclerc in the early laps before suffering a slow pit stop.

He said: “I was taking off, I received an email. I [was already] quite upset about the whole day and then suddenly as you’re taking off, you’re going be one hour without your phone and the last thing you read before taking off is [you might be getting a penalty]. So you can imagine how it felt.

“In Australia, I was really angry. This time, I don’t know if I expected it, but just the whole weekend was such a mess that I [almost] expected the unexpected, it could happen. Get over it and make sure [it doesn’t happen again].

“We need to because quite clearly the sport cannot allow itself another weekend like that because it really doesn’t look good. It’s not good as a driver, it’s not good as a team.

With a delay in deleting times in qualifying in Austria, Sainz has stressed the need to have a system whereby teams and drivers are instantly made aware of any track limits breaches to avoid wasting a set of tyres on an extra run.

And with the track limits debate cropping up at this time every year, Sainz has called for action to be taken at last.

He explained: “There’s been so many solutions and for some reason we keep postponing. Postpone, postpone instead of acting and finding solutions for this kind of thing. For me, it’s time to act whatever they want to [do].

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2023 Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

Revealed: The contract status of every single race on the F1 2023 calendar

“Even if you leave the route the same and you put a loop, at least the loop is telling you immediately if I’ve done a track limit and I know I can correct it.

“The problem, as is I did Q2 in Austria, you might be track limits. You might go or might not go to Q3, so should we run another set of tyres just in case the lap gets cancelled or not? We don’t know.

“‘Let’s do another run.’

“‘Oh no, your lap was OK, sorry’. And you’ve just made waste a set of tyres for my weekend.

“Give the driver feedback so we can act accordingly. And, long/medium term, I prefer a gravel trap or grass.”

Read next: Aston Martin’s blunt but ‘simple’ solution to F1’s track limits problem after protest