Verstappen forced Hamilton off the track during the Brazilian Grand Prix
Carlos Sainz says an increase in the number of gravel traps in the Formula 1 season would put an end to incidents like Max Verstappen’s battle with Lewis Hamilton at last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Hamilton soared through the field after starting 10th on the grid, but Verstappen ran his Red Bull wide when defending from the four-time world champion into Turn 4, compromising both drivers but costing Hamilton more time.
The Briton did manage to make the overtake Verstappen 11 laps later, though, and secured a stunning victory that puts him right back in the title fight with the Dutchman.
The stewards at Interlagos, who included former F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, decided no investigation into the incident was necessary, but Mercedes have now requested a review from F1 Race Control.
Ferrari driver Sainz believes there is an easy solution that will prevent drivers from wilfully running wide in future, whether defending or attacking. Gravel traps are used at circuits such as Silverstone, Imola and Monza to slow down and stop cars that exit the track.
Old school F1 circuits made extensive use of gravel, but newer and renovated tracks have often sought to replace them with tarmac run-off areas that allow drivers to carry on pressing their foot to the accelerator.
“I personally think that this issue would be solved with a gravel trap on the exit of Turn 4,” said Sainz, who is enjoying a fine debut season with the Scuderia. “I think you also saw at the start a few cars – including ourselves – going wide in Turn 4. If there had been a gravel trap, we wouldn’t have gone there.
“And instead of actually it being an issue for the stewards, if you put a gravel trap there, it wouldn’t be an issue for the stewards, for Michael [Masi, FIA race director], for Lewis, for Max or for us,” the 27-year-old Spaniard added.
“We keep asking for gravel traps and we hope [for] that in the future, especially at a track like Sao Paulo where MotoGP is not running, because we would never brake so late into Turn 4.”
Sainz currently sits seventh in the drivers’ standings, 8.5 points behind Monégasque teammate Charles Leclerc. Verstappen leads the championship by 14 points, but a resurgence in Mercedes’ straight-line speed means the battle is wide open with three races remaining.