Already fearing they would struggle for grip, oil dumped on the track following the drivers’ parade adds to drivers’ woes.
As has become the norm at most events, prior to today’s race the drivers were ferried around the circuit in a fleet of old road cars. Unfortunately, the one carrying Oscar Piastri had an oil leak and despite the best efforts of the marshals the residue caused problems for a number of drivers at the start. Indeed, at a time drivers knew they would struggle for grip in the low temperatures, Carlos Sainz cited the oil as the reason he spun and hit Lewis Hamilton at the start.
“I saw a lot of oil from the cars that we used to do the drivers’ parade, which is something for the FIA to look at,” said the Spaniard, who was already compromised by the 10-place grid drop meted out to him following Thursday’s drain cover debacle.
“It is not fair that all the oil was on the inside line,” he added. “Apart from the dirty track already being there, we put cars on that are leaking oil on the track an hour before the race. Again, this is unacceptable. That probably cost us with the crashes into Turn 1.”
Asked if he believed this to be the cause of his spin, he said: “Yes. I hit the brakes, I had a lot of dust from the oil, and I just had no grip.
“I think Fernando also spun,” he continued, “drivers with a lot of experience were finding zero grip. So unfortunate for everyone but, at the same time, you could never have expected that.
“You’d never expected it to be so bad,” he added. “I just touched the brakes, not even hit it and the tyres were just locked.
“I didn’t even brake that late, I was at the 100m board, but arriving at 100 kph slower than on a qualifying lap. The cold tyres probably played a role, but it was absolutely shocking on lap one and I think we all struggled from it.”
“It wasn’t nice,” added Pierre Gasly, “especially lining up on the best spot of the year for us.
“I’ve discussed it already with FIA,” he revealed, “and I’m sure we’ll change a few things, because it doesn’t feel fair that some guy’s got to start on oil and others have clear Tarmac. I’m sure they’ll fix it.”
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen these historic cars dropping oil,” said George Russell, who as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association will no doubt raise the issue with officials. “It was pretty shocking to see how bad it was. But they did a good job to clear it up for the race.”
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