- Sainz's bad luck The oil stain that caused his spin: "It's unacceptable"
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The twentieth victory of 2023 yesterday uncovered a new record for Red Bull, which surpassed the previous record of Mercedes, author of 19 in 2016. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, became the second driver, after Lewis Hamilton, to make 40 points points. Since his breakdown at the 2022 Australian GP, Mad Max has never dropped out of the top-10. His hegemony is now only comparable to that of Michael Schumacher with Ferrari. In fact, yesterday he overtook El Kaiser, with 38 consecutive grands prix as leader of the World Championship. With all this data on the table, his change of discourse regarding the Las Vegas GP, the focus of his criticism throughout the weekend, did not surprise too much in the paddock: "It was a very nice race and a lot of fun. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did. I'm looking forward to coming back in 2024 and doing something similar again."
These sweet words, however, contrasted with the verdict of Christian Horner, annoyed with schedules that escaped any forecast. "It's been a brutal effort for the team and for those working behind the scenes. I think everyone leaves Las Vegas slightly screwed," said the Red Bull team principal, referring to the second free practice session, which started at 02:30 on Friday. A practice session was held behind empty doors, as F1 had to evict the public present to comply with the union agreement of the circuit operators. "We have to see how we can improve that in the future. Maybe we can run a little bit earlier," Horner concluded.
F1 has not only had to worry about TV audiences in Las Vegas, but finding a balance between glamour, driver safety and fan care. A three-way game that generated multiple conflicts. Among other reasons, because opening the avenues to incessant traffic would end up causing situations of undoubted danger. This was admitted by Fernando Alonso himself, sixth at the finish and protagonist of a spin at the arrival of the first corner.
"A danger factor"
"The grip level was extremely low. I know it's the same for everyone, but on a street track it's a danger factor that we have to weigh," said the Spaniard. "It felt like we were racing in mixed conditions, half dry, half wet, which is rare at this kind of circuit," he added of the difficulties in holding his Aston Martin. "It's not a lot of fun to drive at almost 360 km/h with no grip, no visibility, bouncing like hell," he concluded. The resurfacing work, completed at the last minute, had not yielded optimal results. Since Thursday, George Russell, director of the Drivers' Association (GPDA), had already been announcing that the levels of the track were far from the golden standard of Jeddah.
Although if anyone had reason to feel annoyed in Sin City, it was Carlos Sainz. His sixth place at the finish, after starting twelfth on the grid, did not leave the Spaniard satisfied, with a crooked expression after Thursday's unfair penalty. His slim chances of a podium were lost with a spin to Lewis Hamilton, triggered by a stain on the asphalt. "An hour before the start, during the Drivers Parade, they took out cars that were leaking oil. It's unacceptable," said the Spaniard.
When asked about the low asphalt temperatures and the dangers of a restart after the safety car, Sainz was conclusive: "It was like driving on ice." The fight with Mercedes for second place in the World Championship has been taken very seriously in Maranello. Especially after the Silver Arrows' efforts to have Sainz penalised. Late yesterday, Frédéric Vasseur, head of the Scuderia, was still demanding explanations from the FIA for the delay in the red flag that triggered the Spaniard's disaster. "Considering that we missed FP1, that we will spend a couple of million on damages, that the mechanics worked like crazy to fix the car, I think it's not too stupid to consider our case of force majeure.
- Fernando Alonso
- Carlos Sainz Jr
- Max Verstappen
- Sergio Perez
- Red Bull Racing