Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri made contact at first corner of the Belgian GP; Piastri was unable to complete the first lap in his McLaren while Sainz retired on lap 23 with a hole in his Ferrari; Stewards deemed collision a racing incident
Sunday 30 July 2023 17:52, UK
Carlos Sainz has blamed Oscar Piastri's lack of experience racing at Spa for their first corner collision which resulted in both drivers retiring from the Belgian GP.
The Ferrari and McLaren drivers clashed in the opening metres of Sunday's race, with Piastri being squeezed into the wall as he attempted a move up the inside of Sainz, who had locked up while battling Lewis Hamilton for P3.
Piastri would be unable to complete the first lap, while Sainz was left with a hole in his right sidepod and eventually retired on lap 23 after tumbling down the field.
The stewards took no action, deeming it a racing incident, but Sainz felt that Piastri, in his rookie season in F1, had attempted an "optimistic" move.
"I was on the attack with Lewis, I went to pass him into Turn One, I think I had the move pretty much done and suddenly I received contact on my rear right by Oscar," Sainz told Sky Sports F1.
"I honestly didn't expect him to go and choose to be three into Turn One with him so much on the inside.
"My opinion, I've been racing in Spa seven or eight years and everyone who has tried that move on the very inside has always generated an incident or a crash. If you look back at past starts here, that is normally the case.
"Maybe a bit of an experience mistake but it's how it goes.
"I didn't expect him there, no. I did at one point see him (in my mirrors) that he was on the wall pretty much, but I was more focused on my battle with Lewis.
"I didn't miss the apex or anything, I went to attack Lewis and Oscar went to attack Lewis and me, which I think in my opinion was a bit optimistic."
Piastri felt there was not much more he could have done to avoid a collision with Sainz having moved across into the space ahead of him as he locked up battling Hamilton.
"I had a good launch and got to Carlos' back wheel. He jinked quite hard to the right, locked up and I had to take a bit of avoidance from that and then by that point I was kind of still there, and with how I had to get out of the brakes it was quite hard to then back out of it fully," Piastri told Sky Sports F1.
"I either had to stay where I was or try and commit more and get further alongside. It's always tight into Turn One like that, but just disappointing to end at the first corner.
"I've seen the video, it's difficult. Carlos didn't have much space on his outside but I also didn't really get given that many options. It's a tricky one. I'm sure we'll see if I could have done a few things differently. Just a shame to be out so early."
He added to Sky Italy: "It's I guess a Turn One, Lap One incident. It's a shame we're on the bad end of it. I don't think there were too many things I could have done differently.
"Once Carlos went to the right and locked up, it didn't leave me too many options going into the corner."
Despite his early exit on Sunday, Piastri was not going to let the incident overshadow an otherwise hugely positive weekend in which he had finished second in Saturday's Sprint behind Max Verstappen, who also won Sunday's Grand Prix.
"Today is a shame but I don't think it takes away the rest of the weekend," Piastri said.
"I've been very happy with how I've driven, with the pace I've had, getting my first top three finish (in the Sprint) is still a highlight.
"It's been a good weekend, just a shame when all the big points are available we're not there. But from a personal level I'm quite happy with how I've performed.
Analysis from Sky Sports F1's Anthony Davidson…
"I don't really blame anyone there. It's just a case of that pinch zone into the first corner catching them out. It's one of those things."
Analysis from Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle…
"That was a typical Spa first corner. It started actually with Sergio diving across the track, which made Lewis do the same, and as soon as Sainz put any sort of steering lock in, you're always going to lock up that inside unloaded tyre.
"Piastri could have slowed down a little bit more but he certainly wasn't bombing in out of control and trying to make a silly move.
"It was all a bit unfortunate."
Analysis from Sky Sports F1's Naomi Schiff…
"Initially, it looked a lot more like it was Sainz's fault when you saw it in the race action. Now that you see it from Sainz's onboard it's almost like as soon as he moved over Piastri was really in his blind spot. He could have potentially moved over a little bit more to make himself more known to Sainz.
"Everyone is looking ahead, I think (Sainz) thought that inside was clear, he had that lock up. Piastri could have backed out of it to keep them both safe through that corner.
"The race doesn't end in the first corner, it's a long race, 44 laps, so maybe that's what there is to learn here - don't be too greedy.
"But at the end of the day, they're all racers. For him I think initially it seemed like a free gap and suddenly Sainz came in. It's a tricky one. Racing incident as they said, but there's always something to learn."
Formula 1 returns after the summer break with the Dutch GP and all sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1 from August 25-27. Stream the biggest sporting events with NOW