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Sainz: F1 drivers deliberately hindered rivals with "dirty air"

Carlos Sainz believes Formula 1 drivers are deliberately handicapping following rivals in qualifying by "giving a bit of dirty air" without technically being guilty of impeding.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Glenn Dunbar

Sainz made the comment after he found himself stranded in 16th place on the grid for the Abu Dhabi GP after hitting traffic in his last run in Q1.

The Spaniard's weekend had already been made difficult by a crash in FP1 after he bottomed out on a bump in Turn 3.

Sainz suggested that drivers deliberately try to make life harder for rivals.

"It's tricky," he said. "There were cars out there today… Between us drivers, we know that if you do a corner two seconds in front of another car, one second or two seconds in front, you're going to make him lose a tenth or two in that corner.

"I see people as the weekends have combined relaxing a bit on that.

"When it's tight in Q1 and Q2, I see people giving a bit of dirty air on purpose in some corners to maybe make the others lose some time in corners, which we don't consider impeding because it's not like you need to lift.

"But you know you're giving him dirty air and you're giving him a bad run in that corner. So by going out last, I made basically all sectors one and two very close to the cars in front, and I found myself losing tenths and tenths per corner."

He added: "I think everyone's doing it. It's just that if you put yourself in a bad track position, you're going to suffer from that more."

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Sainz said he had no issue in qualifying trim with the Turn 3 bump, which underwent some work overnight to make it less severe.

"Yeah, it felt better, a lot better," he said. "There was basically almost no bump today. It was easy flat. It hasn't even been a corner all these years, Turn 3, but for some reason yesterday, I bottomed out, and the car gave me a huge snap.

"So it didn't make me lose any confidence or anything. Because it's not even a corner for us in quali. So yeah, nothing to worry about on that front."

Sainz also didn't blame missing most of FP2 for his form on Saturday.

"Honestly I wasn't worried about that," he said. "It's not like anyone got a lot of running yesterday.

"It's just that for some reason this weekend, on the soft tyre especially it's been difficult to put laps together. And we need perfect laps in Q1 and Q2, as I said, and we clearly didn't get them."

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Sainz is bullish about prospects for the race as he feels the soft was the weakest tyre for him.

"I'm hoping it will be better," he said. "I feel like for some reason this weekend I struggled on the soft tyre, but the long runs haven't looked too bad.

"So we just know what we need to do tomorrow, which is a good recovery, and see if we can get back in points and score points."

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