Come race day at the Belgian GP, both McLaren and Ferrari were in good positions and were each optimistic of their respective chances at a podium. Unfortunately for both teams, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz collided in Turn 1 immediately after the start.
For those who might have missed it, let’s get into the incident.
Piastri started behind Sainz in P5 and got his front left tyre alongside Sainz’s rear right into turn 1. Sainz went from the outside line towards the inside barrier whilst locking up in an attempt to overtake Lewis Hamilton which set himself and Piastri on a crash course that neither could do anything about.
Piastri was wedged in between the barrier and Sainz’s left side, causing heavy damage to both cars.
Piastri retired later that lap, while Sainz limped on until Ferrari retired the car on Lap 23 when the promise of rain failed to materialise.
The incident prompted no further reaction from Race Control or the Stewards.
What Did Piastri Say?
During the race, Piastri seemed more than a little miffed about the incident, but after the race he was much calmer and reconciliatory.
“I think it’s quite firmly in the category of a Lap 1, Turn 1 incident,” Piastri told the media.
“I got a good start and got my nose alongside, and then when we got to the braking zone Carlos moved a bit to the right and locked up and I also had to try and avoid that a bit. And then from there to apex, my options were quite limited on where I could go.
“I’ll look back over it more and see if there was more I could have done, but it’s just a shame that we’re standing here and not still on track.
“Looking back on it, I think we both could have done things a bit differently.”
McLaren told the media that Oscar’s “steering system” was “broken” and “there was no way to continue.”
What Did Sainz Say?
Carlos didn’t mince words and believes that the incident was almost entirely due to Piastri’s inexperience.
“I think Oscar was trying to do a bit of an optimistic move on me,” Sainz told the media.
“A bit of a shame because when you review the past races here at Spa and you know what has been the typical Turn 1 incident, this is exactly that.
“Everyone who tries the inside lane at Turn 1 normally generates an incident or a crash and this time it was my turn to receive it.”
Sainz was quick to defend his actions and argued that he didn’t go deep and had overtaken Hamilton.
“I didn’t go deep, I made the apex perfectly and passed Lewis if you look at my onboard,” Sainz said. “Yes, I do lock up, but I don’t move deep into the corner.
“At some point, someone needs to back out. And he’s the guy who is alongside my rear right that I think needs to back off, not me and let him pass into Turn 1, especially when I’m pretty much having my move done with Lewis.”
He went on to explain that his car was severely damaged but that he and the team saw an opportunity if the rain arrived, but that wasn’t meant to be.
“It was pretty much undriveable but we kept it going and never give up in case there was a red flag and the rain passed. But the rain passed and there was no red flag, so we retired.”
What Did McLaren Say?
McLaren team principal, Andrea Stella, was less conciliatory than Piastri, suggesting that the incident was more so Sainz’s fault rather than Piastri’s.
“I briefly took a look with Oscar at the incident,” Stella said, “and it looks like, to be honest, Carlos kind of either didn’t know that Oscar was there or, because he needed to avoid the car ahead, just drove on to Oscar and there was a wall, limiting the space available. So, a big shame.”
Despite that, Stella said that they wouldn’t put pressure on the Stewards for an investigation, and the team just want to “move on.”
“Let me just say that we trust the Stewards in this respect. They look at things in this situation with a lot of care, so I think there is no point in arguing one millimetre more or less.
“We trust their operations, we trust their judgement. It doesn’t change the outcome.
“Carlos got his damage as well, he needed to retire. So it’s a bit of learning for everyone and we move on.”