Carlos Sainz believes the FIA created a “mess” that was “unnecessary” at the safety car restart in F1 Saudi Arabian GP, as Mattia Binotto, Christian Horner and Sergio Perez share their views.

During the safety car period that neutralised the race after Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams, Ferrari’s Sainz came out of the pits ahead of Sergio Perez at the safety car line. It was a fractional difference but clear from the broadcast footage that the Spaniard was ahead of the Red Bull at the line.

Nevertheless Perez came out of the Turn 1-3 complex ahead of the Ferrari and was not initially told to hand the place back to the Spaniard. Instead Perez was ordered to relinquish the position only after the safety car had pulled into the pits and the race had restarted.

Sainz insists that if Perez had been told to let him by sooner and before the restart, both drivers would have been less compromised by the situation and automatically in the hunt to make up positions. In the end he says it cost both the chance of a “good fight”.

“It definitely was very strange,” said Sainz. “I think as a sport we need to keep analysing these things because we could simplify things so much more if Checo would have just given me the position during the safety car, which basically would have given me an opportunity to fight Max at the restart and would have given Checo on opportunity to fight me to get the position.

“But what happened is that I was obviously fighting Checo, but I knew that Checo was going to give me a position quickly and he couldn’t fight me because he was going to give me a position back, so in the end we created a mess that for me is unnecessary. Given the fact that we did six laps behind the safety car and there were millions of opportunities for Checo to let me by and have a good fight at the restart,” summed up Sainz.

The Ferrari driver, who’s into his second season at the Scuderia, says the sport and the FIA need to make improvements to the way incidents are handled during the race. “If I would have get passed by Russell for example, what would we have done and would Checo have had to let by Russell and me, which would have been tremendously unfair for him too or then Checo doesn’t give me back the position because there’s Russell in between me and him and it’s tremendously unfair for me,” Sainz articulated.

“So I don’t know, it’s just these kind of things that as a sport we need to keep getting better at because I think we need to simplify things and just make it quicker and easier for everyone to understand and even for the drivers to go racing with a much clearer mind,” summed up Sainz.

Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto, explained the behind the scenes communication with the FIA and Ferrari, and echoed the thoughts of his frustrated driver. “The communication was that we went on the radio to the race director as soon as possible to tell him to check the safety car line because we believed we were ahead by a couple of tenths,” he said to written media.

“It took a bit too long from then to decide and to give that to the stewards. And Ferrari think they took the decision when the safety car was coming in so it was too late to change before the restart. So it’s not a blame, but I think those types of decision we need to speed up because it was obvious and straightforward and I think it could have been done differently.

“I think it would have been important to do it differently, it would have been a lot more fair and equitable to swap the positions before the restart because that was the right position to have and for the battle at the restart as well,” summed up Binotto.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner suggests that his team actually asked race control to look at the footage too as it felt their driver was behind. “[Perez had a] good stop, everything turned around, and then a safety car and that gives the other cars a free stop, so desperately unlucky for Checo,” He explained. “It was so tight with Sainz as well.

“We checked with race control. We felt that we were potentially slightly behind, we asked them to check and they confirmed that, so that’s why the place was given back,” summed up Horner. Formula 1’s rulebook states that drivers must maintain their position during neutralised periods when not in the pit lane itself, but discussions with the race director in the past has usually led to position swaps being allowed when necessary.

In the end Perez gave the place back on lap 21, a full five laps after the incident took place. “Under the Safety Car I lost out to Carlos too,” said Perez after a disappointing race from pole which ended as a non-podium finish to confound his despair. It was the worst timing, straight after my pit stop, and made regaining P1 impossible after that. It was a bit of a shame I couldn’t get Carlos at the end to be on the podium, but I didn’t get the chance.”

Here’s how re-start worked:

The story was written by Danny Herbert

Here’s how Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc described Saudi battle