Sainz explains crash that took him out of Japanese Grand Prix on Lap 1
Carlos Sainz looked in a prime position for big points heading into the Japanese Grand Prix, as he lined up P3 on the grid. But his hard work in qualifying was undone in tricky conditions, as he crashed out at the wet race start.
Sainz had just rounded Suzuka’s famous Turn 11 hairpin on Lap 1 when he appeared to suffer aquaplaning and lost the rear of his intermediate tyre-shod Ferrari, hitting the barriers before the field filed past him – with a red flag eventually pulled to clear up the mess.
Speaking of the crash after returning the pits, Sainz said: “Basically, by the time we started the race we were on inters but the track was nearly into extreme conditions. I had no visibility, so I tried to get out of Checo’s [Sergio Perez’s] slipstream, or Checo’s water curtain, and suddenly I found myself in a puddle and had aquaplaning and lost the car.
“The more scary part came a bit later when I was stuck in the middle of the track, and I could see cars coming and I knew that they didn’t see I was there. Quite tricky and dangerous conditions out there right now so I’m not sure what is going to be the decision,” added Sainz, speaking during the red flag period, with the race restart time still unconfirmed at that stage.
Sainz went on: “Obviously because I had done half a lap before that, I knew that everyone coming behind me was not going to see me.
“And you could see [Pierre] Gasly and a few others coming this close from taking me. If there is no visibility you are leaving it in God’s hands, if one driver is going to spin and the others aren’t going to see him. So I hope Race Direction takes the right decisions.”
Despite Sainz’s retirement, the red flag was flown while Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc was holding onto P2 behind Max Verstappen – Leclerc having come within a whisker of passing his pole-sitting Dutch rival at the race start, only for Verstappen to put in a brilliant defence to regain the lead.