There’s something dramatic about a Formula One car exploding into flames. One of the F1’s iconic images is of the current world champion’s father, Jos Verstappen, engulfed by a huge fire at the German GP in 1994. As the car came in for a normal pitstop for rookie Verstappen petrol spewed from the refuelling hose and was ignited by the hot car.
The live TV pictures were indeed horrifying and the drama of the moment was captured as Benton pit crew Paul Seaby was captured making his escape from the middle of the flames.
Last time out at the Austrian GP Carlos Sainz was hunting down a struggling Verstappen for P2 and a potential win given his team mate’s late race troubles, when the engine in the Spaniards Ferrari literally exploded. The flames licked around the engine cover of the F1-75 and as Carlos was signalling for the Fire Marshall
Speaking at the driver’s media briefing Sainz was asked why he stayed in the car so long.
“You didn’t see me jump out as quick as I did [could have] because I was safe in the moment,” the Spaniard replied.
“Then as soon as I started to get burned then I jumped out really quickly, but I didn’t want to leave the car rolling backwards, I was waiting for someone to come and help me with the rolling and the extinguisher.”
So thats’s why everything looked a bit slow, but as soon as I was getting burned I got a move on”
When asked about the seriousness of the burns Carlos laughed stating, “It was itching a bit, but that’s when I jumped out so I didn’t give it time to get burned”
The Ferrari driver concluded not probably took too long for him to receive assistance. “As sport we need to look into ways of making that a bit shorter.”
Paul Di Resta agrees lessons could be learned, but added “You’ve got to get to a Marshall’s post quickly. It probably wasn’t the best place for him to stop. Halfway down that straight [before Sainz pulled over] would have been better.
However the Sky F1 commentator thinks Carlos Sainz could have chosen a better place to stop earlier.
“There was a fire [marshall] post. You look for the orange marker on the barrier. All these things maybe need to be drummed into the driver from a briefing point of view to make it more familiar in you head where is the safest place to stop.”
As TJ13 wrote following the event, whether Sainz was trying to help the team – whose other car was leading the race – by hanging on to get the car well clear from the track and avoid a safety car, we will never know.
Di Resta added, “Surely the FIA will investigate it and bring more safety ton it. I don’t want to see a car on fire and somebody being stuck to get out of that. Nobody wants to see that.”
Carlos Sainz was asked by Ted Kravitz whether the destroyed engine will have consequences for him this weekend. The Spaniard smiled wryly and coyly replied
“Surely. But I don’t know if it’s this weekend immediately or not”.
“There’s a chance they will put a new engine [in] this weekend [which] would involve a penalty,” he explained.
“But we haven’t taken the final decision.”
Of course Ferrari have already had to make tactical decisions over when to introduce an engine over the allocation and take a penalty.
Charles Leclerc was handed a grid drop in Canada following an engine failure in the previous time out in Baku. The team decided Canada had good overtaking opportunities and Charles would be less disadvantaged by taking the grid drop there.
Paul Ricard has traditionally not been a great place for overtaking, unlike Canada. So it may be Ferrari will begin the weekend with just components from older engines and then make the decision on Friday evening before Saturday qualifying.
UPDATE: Ferrari have now declared they will be fitting a new control electronics unit to Carlos Sainz’s car and take a ten place grid grid penalty.