The Carlos Sainz – Oscar Piastri ‘incident’
During the intense weekend of the 2023 Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix, which concluded with Max Verstappen’s ninth consecutive victory and another challenging race for Ferrari, there was an incident that went somewhat unnoticed but deserves analysis. The Maranello-based team, in fact, received a rather stern reprimand from the stewards, not the first in recent seasons. Once again, the target of the FIA officials was the much-discussed Maranello pit wall.
The incident in question didn’t concern the race but rather the Saturday qualifying session, and the protagonists of the incident were Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri.
The Spanish driver of Ferrari was involved in a dangerous pit lane exit near the McLaren driver, who was approaching on the track. Piastri wasn’t on a timed lap, so he wasn’t hindered in his quest for a fast lap time. However, without a doubt, Carlos Sainz’s rather ‘forceful’ re-entry onto the track posed a risk of causing an accident. The stewards, after investigating the incident, decided to spare the Spaniard, punishing him only with a reprimand, his first of the season. Upon scrutinizing the FIA’s provided statement, it becomes clear that the Ferrari pit wall was largely in the spotlight.
The Ferrari pit wall’s communication under scrutiny
In justifying the decision to penalize a maneuver deemed “potentially dangerous,” which could have led to an accident avoided only by “Piastri’s evasive action,” the stewards emphasized the lack of communication from the red pit wall. “The stewards heard radio communications from Bottas, the car exiting the pits just ahead of Carlos Sainz. Bottas was well advised of Piastri’s approach on track. In comparison, Sainz was only advised not to cross the white line at the pit exit and was not warned about Piastri’s presence until he was alongside.”
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As a result of all this, the stewards imposed a fine of 5000 euros on Ferrari. While this penalty isn’t severe from a sporting perspective, it confirms some long-standing concerns about the effectiveness of communications between the red pit wall and the two drivers on the track. Often, there are significant misunderstandings between Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, and their respective race engineers, both regarding strategic matters and, as in this case, ‘traffic management.’ It’s an area in which, looking ahead, Ferrari should consider a decisive intervention aimed at improving the situation.