Carlos Sainz has closed the first Free Practice session behind the leader Charles Leclerc. A good sign for him and his team on a wet track after the poor result they collected in Spa- Francorchamps.
His Renault engine Spec 3 (which made him start with a 5 place grid penalty) failed his mission during the formation lap already: the Italian Grand Prix is his chance to bounce back.
"I’m confident, it hasn’t been the best season on the reliability side and yes, I’m confident about the work Renault is doing. Obviously retirement in lap eleven on the first race was not the start, and not starting in Spa, the race weekend, the race itself, wasn’t either a good start of the second half of the season, so hopefully now all my reliability issues out of the way." Said the Spaniard on Thrusday in Monza, Italy.
"This second half of the season we can perform like we did before the summer break." Reassured the McLaren driver, who is currently 7th in the championship.
"The engine performance is not our major problem in term of competitiveness because the step that Renault did this year is very big compared to last year, still not at the level of Ferrari and Mercedes at all, but at least we’re much closer." He added. "So we’re happy with that. The reliability side puts everything into perspective, there was an issue in lap 11 of Australia and another issue in lap zero in Spa, but apart from that the year hasn’t gone that bad actually and I managed to get a good run of points before the summer break of seven consecutive points finishes. The reliability hasn’t been terrible, it could’ve been better? Yes."
Sainz also talked about Anthoine Hubert accident and how it is affecting the conversation in Motorsport about safety.
"Up until now, all the talks about run-off areas were about track limits. It was not because of accidents. Unfortunately, because of Anthoine's accident, the talk is now what is actually safer: safer to have a gravel trap or tarmac?
"The best question to ask is to the FIA, they are probably the smartest and have the most information about what is actually safer for a driver in that condition. They are doing an extensive analysis of the accident as you expect. I hope and I'm sure we'll hear answers in the near future, and what's going to happen with these kinds of run-off areas.
"Unfortunately, the focus switches now to safety because of the accident, but if you think about it the last five years has been 'why do we need run-off areas because it makes the driving less exciting?'. Up until seven days ago, we were not talking about run-off areas' safety."
"We need to find the most safe run-off area and then find a way to make it penalizing for the driver." continued Sainz.
"What Anthoine's accident puts into perspective is that safety must always come first.”
He also spoke about how he felt after the news. Daniel Ricciardo was was questioning himself about if it was right to race or not in Spa, but Sainz didn't have problem with that.
"When I heard it, talking with other drivers, we were all shocked. I went for a run on Sunday morning and while running I felt like I needed to race and that everyone should race. Obviously it was a different case for F2, but in F1 we all should’ve definitely race and it’s probably the best antidote against thinking about other stuff. I think Anthoine would’ve been proud to see us. For me it was not an issue to get in the car on Sunday."
"I honestly don’t think about how dangerous F1 is. I may be right or wrong, but I’ve never thought about it. Probably on rainy days when you actually don’t see nothing like Hockenheim: it’s risky, but you don’t think about consequences of a big accident, because the moment you think about it, the slower you’ll become. So i never think about it."