Ferrari kept Carlos Sainz Jnr’s car running after he picked up damage on the first lap of the Belgian Grand Prix as they expected a red flag during the race would give them an opportunity to repair it.
Sainz collided with Oscar Piastri at the first corner. The McLaren driver retired on the first lap but Sainz carried on despite extensive damage to the right-hand side of his floor.
The preceding two days of running at Spa-Francorchamps had been disrupted by rain. Pre-race weather forecasts indicated a 40% chance of a shower during the grand prix, and some rain did fall around half-distance. However it never became strong enough to jeopardise the running of the race.
As Ferrari realised the race would not be stopped, they retired Sainz’s car shortly after the rain passed.
“We were just expecting a red flag at one stage, to be able to fix it, with the first shower,” Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur confirmed. “But when the shower came without the red flag, we decided to stop it.”
Vasseur said Sainz’s car was badly affected by the damage but they did not estimate how much performance he lost.
“It’s quite difficult because you are losing downforce, but it’s not just the downforce it’s the balance of the car,” he explained. “We never did the calculation of a potential lap time with its points of downforce its points of balance that, but it was a lot.”
Sainz said his car was “undriveable, pretty much,” after the collision. “But we kept it going and never gave up in case there’s a red flag. Then when the rain passed and there was no red flag we retired.”
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