Carlos Sainz took aim at George Russell after the 2022 United States Grand Prix, saying Russell‘s crash that put the Ferrari out of the race wasn’t indicative of a top driver.
Sainz started on pole position in Austin but his lead lasted a matter of metres as Verstappen blew past him at the start, and Russell punted him onto a spin on the exit of the first corner before he retired with a radiator problem.
“I think you’ve never seen this kind of incident in the top-three positions,” Sainz told the media following his retirement.
“Normally in the top four these drivers don’t do these kind of mistakes so it’s very simple.
“For sure a penalty was deserved, if he deserved five seconds, ten or a stop-go I’m not going to evaluate.”
Sainz took his first F1 victory earlier in 2022 at the British Grand Prix, which was also his first ever pole position.
After beating Max Verstappen to pole by a tenth of a second in Austin it looked like he could be in position to repeat the feat, especially after Charles Leclerc took a ten-place grid penalty for a power unit change.
However, it all went downhill as soon as the lights went out, as Verstappen flew off the line and would’ve been ahead with or without Russell’s love-tap.
The incident dropped Sainz to the back of the pack but it didn’t look terminal. However, his race was run and he headed into the pits at the end of the lap.
“We didn’t get the best of starts,” Sainz added. “I think Max got a really good one because mine wasn’t too bad, we’ve seen that many many years here, P2 gets a better start than P1 for a reason that we don’t understand.
“Then it was in a middle of a fight with Max and suddenly came someone who wasn’t even in that fight bumped into me and I don’t think it needs too much explanation.”
Mercedes pace not a surprise
It looked like it might be a processional victory for Verstappen following the crash but Lewis Hamilton pushed the Dutchman very close, aided by an 11-second Red Bull pitstop.
Midway through the race, Sainz said: “We expected them to be on the pace, we thought Max had something in-hand in the first couple of stints and now Hamilton‘s in strike position so let’s see.”