Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz feel their Lap 1 tangle in F1 US GP was certainly a racing incident.
Red Bull’s Albon qualified clear of the mid-field carnage in F1 US GP, but still found himself in close quarters of his rivals going through the uphill Turn 1 where McLaren’s Sainz was on his outside and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the inside.
It was a better exit out of Turn 1 from Albon, accelerating away from Sainz, but it wasn’t long until their tangled wheels made contact as the Thai racer went over the sausage kerbs, causing damage to his floor as he was forced to pit immediately.
The stewards deemed it a racing incident and both parties seemingly agreed, with Albon recovering well to eventually finish fifth despite the three pit stops and overtaking Sainz multiple times – labeling the clash as ‘one of them things’.
“Coming into Turn 1, on the exit, I saw Charles on the inside, so I basically tried to put myself as close to Charles as I could, because I knew I was going to get a better drive coming out of the corner, but I also saw Carlos on the outside,” said Albon.
“It was one of them things, to be honest, I think I had a small correction. I was expecting Carlos to go around the kerb, you know, that ‘Bottas line’. Out and in! He didn’t and I think we got sandwiched. No one’s fault, really.
“One of them things, so we took some floor damage, I think, we took some front wing damage, I was like, ‘K, here we go. It’s gonna be a long day.’ Actually, it was OK. I’m not sure if the lack of downforce was wind related or damage related.
“It was just, it was really tricky out there. Of course following cars as well isn’t fun, especially the high-speed esses it was pretty sketchy.” Albon felt the incident didn’t help him show the pace he actually had all weekend, even in qualifying.
The Thai racer’s mistake in Q3 put him sixth for his first-ever run at Circuit of the Americas. On the other side, Sainz recalled the damage inflicted and advised people to not overthink what was a harmless Lap 1 accident.
He finished eighth behind McLaren teammate Lando Norris. “We don’t need to overthink it,” said Sainz. “I tried to pass a few cars on the outside and there was Albon that lost control and hit me. It compromised my race a lot.
“But as usual I tried something on lap 1 and this time it didn’t work. I had a bit of offset on the steering wheel but I don’t think I had a lot of issues.” Adding about his race in general, Sainz wasn’t too concerned about putting the hard compound after Mexico issues.
“The hard didn’t work in Mexico because the aero wasn’t working, that’s what we found out,” he said. “I was calm ahead of the race because I knew that without any problems we would have a good race. But I spent the first 20 laps in traffic behind Gasly.
“I was the first one to change to the hards and that compromises your race, but it’s also true that we were able to recover well, attack Lando with the hard tyre. In the end the team gave him the two-stopper, which I also requested.
“But it’s normal that the team opts for two different strategies to cover itself and it was his turn.” Even though Norris couldn’t get Daniel Ricciardo, both teams scored 10 points in all which helped McLaren to keep its 38 points advantage.
Daniil Kvyat was furious as Pierre Gasly explains what happened with Sergio Perez
Max Verstappen talks about endplate and floor damage while catching Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton reflects on sixth F1 title
Ferrari, Red Bull on the latest controversy in US GP
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on their tussle
The story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani