The chaos due to the rain during the 2018 Formula 1 German Grand Prix race was not just limited to the drivers in the front but it also caught the midfield pack, especially Renault’s Carlos Sainz.
The Spaniard was fighting with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson at the lower end of the Top 10 when Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed out, which resulted in a safety car period. The subsequent confusion in those conditions caught out Sainz.
By that time he was already lapped by the leaders. While they started to unlap themselves, he overtook Ericsson under the safety car. He said the car ahead was not pushing enough and so he took the decision to pass him, but was asked to give back the place.
He did it but Ericsson slowed down again for Sainz to re-pass which got the stewards attracted, who eventually handed him a 10-second time penalty to be added to his time after the race. He was 10th but dropped to 12th, promoting Brendon Hartley to 10th.
Ahead of the Hungarian GP, Sainz has suggested some changes to the rules, stating that it will be better for the lapped cars to drop back and continue racing, instead of overtaking all the cars ahead and complete a lap to join the cars behind.
“This was a very particular incident and a very strange situation,” he started. “Just after my pit stop for inters I got lapped and I was one lap down and as soon as there was the safety car gave us the notice to unlap ourselves I was a little bit leaped into unknown.
“Not knowing really well who was lapped, who had to unlap themselves and who didn’t. At that point I saw pretty much most of the cars going really slowly, even if you were allowed to unlap yourselves, so I just decided to push, to rejoin the field at the back of the train as soon as possible.
“I think some drivers got the notice a bit later than me and they were simply not pushing, they had the recharge mode on, particularly with the Sauber, I thought he had a problem on the car or he didn’t want to get to the back of the field because he wasn’t even pushing.
“So, I decided to clear him, just as a personal decision. I was told to give the position back to him, I gave the position back to him but I don’t know if intentionally or not he braked again and he let me by again.
“So [it was a] big mess and a bit difficult to understand at that point what is happening, as you can all imagine now because the story is not very easy to tell. [I am] always wondering if it is not easier to drop back, get ourselves at the back of queue and recover the lap down.
“Instead of having to do a full lap of pushing behind the safety car, everyone pushing flat out to try and unlap themselves, if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s just easier to drop back, go to the end of the queue and recover the lap that you’ve just lost,” he explained.
The idea currently calls for the lapped cars to complete a lap around the circuit to come on par with the leaders. Should they just drop back, it will be easier but it might give them a lap’s advantage which could be beneficial to some of the cars fighting at the lower end.