Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Andreas Seidl and Carlos Sainz along with FIA Race Director Masi gave their perspective on the jostling between trio on Lap 1 of F1 US GP.

The trio had a hefty battle on the opening lap of F1 US GP where Ferrari’s Sainz eventually overtook McLaren’s Norris after giving up the place as asked. Just behind Red Bull and Mercedes tussle, we have another closely contested and significant battle on our hands in 2021 and that is of McLaren and Ferrari.

They are in a battle for third in the constructors’ and best of the rest. McLaren have more or less had the upper hand all season, but since Ferrari’s recent engine upgrade it’s clear McLaren will have a massive fight on their hands for P3 and may have even slipped behind their scarlet rivals in terms of performance.

But it was the opening lap in COTA that saw probably the best on track battle we have seen between these two teams all season. The drivers went wheel-to-wheel with Leclerc having a clear road ahead, while Ricciardo came out on top after fighting both Sainz and Norris in a three-way tussle for half a lap.

There was a moment when Sainz went off track to overtake at Turn 12. He gave up the place to Norris, but it was at a corner when the Brit couldn’t defend when the Spaniard came back on him. The Brit was pretty careful all-through to not t-bone anyone.

He was a bit scared in all honesty as Ricciardo reflected on his jump of places, while Sainz clarified his side of things of giving up places with a genuine intention before passing Norris back to stay ahead of the Brit in a crucial move.

Norris: “I mean like Lap 1 was a bit nerve-wracking, especially when it was three wide because I knew Daniel was on the outside, so I had to be careful with with what happened, but Charles was like just ahead so, it’s quite risky because I couldn’t break too late I would also with a t-bone Charles. So, I had to get like the braking ride and I was too close to Charles to kind of commit enough to the move. So, yeah just a long-long tough race hot as well, made it very difficult, even physically but also just on the tyres to look after them and keep them in a good range. That was something we couldn’t do very well.”

Ricciardo: “At times it was let’s say kind of a standard progressive race or whatever, but then at times it was interesting. The first lap was a lot of fun. I got Carlos I think on the start, then he got me back with a good move outside of six into seven. And then I got him back Turn 17 I think on the inside. So it was three kind of changes in position on the first lap was cool, but that was crucial for me to get a top five. Charles showed that Ferrari were quicker, we couldn’t match that pace today. So obviously that’s something we’ve got to still try to find. But to beat one of them its quite rewarding.”

Sainz: “Basically, I got a poor start off the line, and this put me on the back foot so instead of being on the attack on the soft tyre, I was actually defending from the McLarens. I actually managed to pass them back, then I went side-by-side with both of them into Turn 12. I was in the middle. I think it was Lando who braked really late on the inside. We actually all three nearly took Charles with us in the attempt to stay ahead of each other. Me, just to give a bit of space to Lando, I decided to go wide to make sure we don’t crash. When I rejoined the track, I am ahead of Lando and Daniel.

“Exiting Turn 15, I took the conscious decision, what I thought it was Lando by, during Turn 16 just to make sure I didn’t get the penalty from the stewards. They even took action even though I let them by. A bit confusing to be honest and I don’t like how they play with the positions because I think what I actually did of letting by one of them was already quite genuine and should have been enough.

“What actually happened is during that battle, Daniel overtook Lando, so I actually let by Daniel and not Lando, because now Lando was ahead of the group. The stewards deemed that I should give the position back to Lando, even though that would cost me two positions, which would be in my opinion unfair. That was it really. I had to give the position back to Lando, then I overtook him, and then I started chasing Daniel again. I don’t know if I’ve explained myself, but it’s quite complex.”

On the team side, McLaren’s Seidl thought Sainz was being clever in the situation to give the place to Norris, especially in a place where it was difficult for the Brit to stay ahead and allowed the Spaniard to repass fairly quickly, as Masi added his view too.

Seidl: “First of all, with the incident between Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris from our point of view it was clear that Carlos suddenly got Lando back because he went off the track. So that’s why we clearly expected that he had to give the position back which he then had to do later on. Unfortunately, he did it in a clever way so that he could actually overtake Lando back on the next straight so he could benefit from that. It’s obviously not the idea of giving a position back but let’s see. We need to analyse again in detail, speak with Lando as well what he thinks about it. And then I would say as long as the rules are what they are I have to say hat off to Carlos he did it in a clever way.”

Masi: “Yes there were two from the start of the race. No I didn’t look at that and McLaren didn’t ask the question either but we did a similar thing with Valtteri and Pierre from Turn 1, it was exactly the same thing that was done. We have always said from the first lap that those type of things will be looked at and looked at from the first lap as quickly as possible and we feel that that situation is there then we give the opportunity for that position to be given back and then play on.”

The story was written by Ollie Pattas

Here’s Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo:

Here’s onboard:

Here’s Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz on dirty racing