Carlos Sainz calls out FIA: “That is not good enough”

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 20: Scuderia Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz (55) of Team Spain is interviewed by ESPN during F1 US Grand Prix prep day at Circuit of the Americas on October 20, 2022 in Austin, TX. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Carlos Sainz is unhappy with the lack of communication between drivers and the FIA amidst key decisions for the Qatar GP.

Carlos Sainz was a frustrated figure in Qatar upon the FIA’s changes to protect driver Safety. The Spaniard believes the lack of communication between F1’s governing body and its drivers must change.

The FIA announced a sequence of precautions ahead of the action on Saturday, following concerns about Pirelli’s tyres. Inspections after qualifying revealed the structural integrity of the tyres was worse than originally feared.

Heading into this weekend, there were already question marks surrounding the Losail circuit. After all, its only previous F1 event in 2021 saw a variety of punctures – caused by the curves and track layout.

At a track that was previously used to host MotoGP events, it soon became clear that adjustments were necessary. Despite optimism prior to Friday’s practice, a last-minute decision was taken to mitigate potential risks.

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This surprised much of the F1 field, including the drivers. A late meeting was held to discuss the FIA’s announcement, which was made before informing the field.

Speaking to the media, Carlos Sainz was unhappy with the lack of communication:

“We arrived here today in the morning, and we saw the news in the press,” quotes him as saying.

“Nobody informed us that there is going to be [alteraitons] to track limits, and nobody told us the tyres were delaminating. We have to learn things from the press, which is clearly not how things should be done.

“As the GPDA [Grand Prix Drivers’ Association], we are not happy with the situation… When safety is involved, then our input should be considered.

“That is not good enough.”

Early signs of tyre trouble

This sentiment was not unique to the 29-year-old, with reports filtering from the paddock about anger throughout the field. Considering that changes were made to the circuit layout – which can impact the effectiveness of set-up and configurations – this is not surprising.

With several teams such as McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari so evenly matched, seemingly small tweaks can make a huge difference.

In any case, the Sprint Race seemed to validate the FIA’s concerns. Although there were no dramatic tyre blowouts or punctures, the soft tyres proved to have an exceptionally short life span.

Even in a small sample size of just 19 laps – made even smaller by several Safety Cars – the softs struggled to maintain performance.

Although this is not necessarily cause for alarm (with the mediums showing reasonable durability), it emphasized previous worries.

18-lap tyre limits for the Qatar GP

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In theory, without the changes made ahead of the Sprint Shootout, the tyres would be even more vulnerable. So, from a safety perspective, adequate adjustments were made. Still, this does not invalidate the criticisms raised by Carlos Sainz.

Drivers will not be pleased to hear critical decisions from F1 news outlets before the FIA itself. On the matter of safety, communication and clarity are paramount.

There have also been further developments on tyres and safety this weekend. A maximum of 18-lap tyre stints will be permitted, forcing drivers to complete at least three pit stops this evening. Combined with the dust, wind and other variables in Qatar – today will be a great test.

The Losail circuit continues to provide surprises and curveballs for teams to manage – and today is another example of this. With a few hours to prepare for the Grand Prix according to the FIA’s latest guidelines, strategy and pit-stop personnel must be at their very best.