Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz believes Mclaren driver Daniel Ricciardo’s stern defence at the US Grand Prix was “on the edge of legality” in Formula 1. During the 56-lap race at the Circuit of the Americas, Sainz and Riccardo were involved in several battles, the first of which occurred on the first lap. As Lando Norris attempted to pass both Sainz and Ricciardo on the inside, Sainz went wide at Turn 12 to maintain his lead over Ricciardo.
The pair then sat side by side as Sainz lost position through the next set of corners. In explaining the events of the first lap, Sainz revealed that he mistook Norris for Ricciardo after Turn 12.
“Yeah basically I got a poor start off the line, so instead of being on the attack on the soft tyre I was actually defending from the McLarens,” Sainz said.
“I actually managed to pass them back then went side by side with both of them into Turn 12, I was in the middle, I think it was Lando who braked really late on the inside, we all three nearly took Charles with us in the attempt to stay ahead of each other, and me to give a bit of space to Lando I decided to go wide and to make sure we don’t crash,” the Spaniard added.
“When I re-joined the track I am ahead of Lando and Daniel in that order, exiting Turn 15 I took the conscious decision to let what I thought it was Lando by during turn 16 to make sure I didn’t get a penalty from the stewards but what actually happened is during that battle Daniel overtook Lando, so I actually let by Daniel and not Lando, as Lando was the third of the group. The stewards still deemed I should give the position back to Lando even though that would cost me two positions, which would be in my opinion unfair, but that was it, I had to give the position back to Lando, I overtook him and started chasing Daniel again,” Sainz continued.
Ferrari and Mclaren are locked in an intense battle for third in the constructor’s championship. What made the battle between Sainz and Ricciardo even more interesting at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday was that the British constructor had replaced Sainz, who had left to join Ferrari, with Ricciardo.
As Sainz chased down Ricciardo for fifth, the pair collided through Turn 13, with the Australian pushing the Ferrari wide. As a result of the damage, Sainz expressed his displeasure over team radio.
“Yeah for me it was on the limit of the legality because it’s obviously in the inside I’m on the outside I have everything to lose being on the outside but normally the car on the inside you’re trying to run the car out of road, of course he did it on purpose, he wanted to leave me without room on corner exit with the caveat that we touched,” Sainz explained.
“Without the touch he would have done it a clean perfect defending, just that slight contact we had made it on the limit for me but if I was in his position I would have done exactly the same, obviously wouldn’t have tried to have contact but we did but the guy in the inside has the right to run the car on the outside out of road. If I’ve explained myself correctly he is in his rights to do what he did but the little contact we had was avoidable and that’s what triggered my reaction on the radio when we are emotional, and in an emotional situation, for the rest it was a good fun battle,” the Spaniard concluded.
Ricciardo, on the other hand, defended himself after Sainz’s comments, stating that there was nothing deliberate, but it was the Spaniard who ran the risk by trying to take the outside line to overtake him. “I guess that was from us touching unless he took a kerb somewhere. But I think my car was okay. Obviously you don’t deliberately try to go into someone. But that’s a bit of ‘rubbing racing’. When you put yourself on the outside, obviously you’re a little bit more exposed. So nothing was deliberate but I guess it’s the risk he ran by trying the outside,” the Australian said.