Sainz: Force India F1 team's Chinese GP pitlane antics 'dangerous'

The Force India Formula 1 team's pitlane actions in the Chinese Grand Prix were "really dangerous", according to Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr

Sainz: Force India F1 team's Chinese GP pitlane antics 'dangerous'

All the cars that started the Shanghai F1 race on the super-soft compound dived for the pitlane when the safety car came out on lap four following Daniel Ricciardo's tyre blowout on the back straight.

Nico Hulkenberg drove slowly in the pit entry to build a gap so Force India could do team-mate Sergio Perez's tyre change before he arrived, prompting Sebastian Vettel to overtake two cars on the grass as the queue backed up.

The stewards gave Hulkenberg a five-second time penalty and two penalty points on his licence for driving "unnecessarily slowly in the pit entry, holding up other competitors".

Sainz said while backing up the pack in that circumstance was a standard tactic, that did not make it acceptable.

"It is fairly common but it is really dangerous," he said.

"You're in the pitlane at 80km/h - that might seem slow but it's still 80km/h - and suddenly he locks the brakes and you can run into him and there are people standing next to you.

"You could hit him and have two cars in the middle of the pitlane spinning around.

"It was definitely a really tricky situation. I went to pass him on the grass and Seb came, so I decided not to tangle with Seb.

"The pitlane should be a safe place, not a place to race and create chaos."

Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer acknowledged Hulkenberg had been trying to create a gap ahead but said it was for safety reasons in the crowded pitlane rather than to gain an advantage.

"With everything going on in the pitlane he just wanted to be a bit cautious, knowing that he couldn't do a normal stop as well," Szafnauer told Autosport.

"He thought just a little bit slower would help him avoid any potential danger because he wasn't doing his normal routine."

Vettel raised eyebrows by overtaking the cars queuing behind Hulkenberg but said he was aware he was allowed to.

"It was very slow and the Toro Rosso decided to queue so I decided to go halfway over the grass and jump both of them," he said.

"We're free to race in the pit entry.

"It looks like I was the only one to remember, which was good."

Force India was also fined 5000 euros for an unsafe release with Perez at the same stops.

"Car #11 was released from the pitstop in an unsafe manner; the approaching cars being well past the guidance markers when the car was released by the team," said a stewards' statement.

"The driver took appropriate action to avoid a collision and no sporting advantage was gained."

Sainz was also involved in that incident.

"I nearly crashed with him, and then Fernando [Alonso] nearly crashed into me also," he said.

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