Sainz calls for rethink of "dangerous" Baku restarts
Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz has lobbied for changes to be made to safety car restarts in Baku, as he believes they created a “dangerous situation” in the 2017 race.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix proved a chaotic affair last weekend, as the race featured three separate safety car restarts, with collisions and resulting debris led to frequent lengthy interruptions.
Sainz, who finished the race in eighth, said afterwards that the restarts presented the biggest safety risk in the event, as inconsistent pace from the leaders on approach to the start-finish line caused disruptions further down the order.
“For me it was probably the most dangerous part of the race,” Sainz said of the restarts. “The leaders were waiting up until the safety car line to start, and at the same time they were going fast-slow, and for the guys at the back, we're still in the corners when they're going fast-slow, and there's walls and we cannot see through them.
“So suddenly we are going flat out in sixth, seventh gear, and they are braking again. For me a bit on the dangerous side, probably for next year they should reconsider when the leader is obliged to push.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton led the field on all three restarts. For the initial occasion, he opted to accelerate early out of the Turn 16 left-hander and was warned by the team that he had come too close to passing the safety car before the first safety car line, which would have yielded a penalty.
The Brit went much later on the throttle the second and third time around, accelerating in the flat-out section encompassing Turns 17 to 20.
Sainz continued: “I think they should just put a rule for the leader to restart before Turn 16 and then to be flat from 16, make sure he's racing from 16 onwards, no?
“Because you cannot be slow braking, fast, slow braking, fast, you know, all the time, in such a long straight, with people actually thinking we are going, suddenly upshifting, and suddenly braking again.”
The Spaniard clarified that the issue had not come up in the drivers' briefing despite last year's hectic safety car restarts in GP2 races in Baku, and said he was not blaming the leader for accelerating late.
“If I were the leader, I probably would've done the same,” he said. “It's not the leader's fault at all. I think we would all have done the same to avoid the maximum possible slipstream.
“Put a rule, I think, if you want to be a bit more careful and make sure there's no accidents. If not, just let it be and more things will happen, and that's it.”
Additional reporting by Oleg Karpov
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