Daniel Ricciardo has laughed off Carlos Sainz’s complaints about drivers spoiling rivals’ laps in Formula 1 qualifying and teased the Ferrari driver for being the main "culprit” of bad impeding etiquette.
Sainz was unhappy after being eliminated in the first part of qualifying, having passed Pierre Gasly’s Alpine through Turn 3 and George Russell’s Mercedes after the hairpin on his final lap in Q1.
“So much traffic,” Sainz said on the radio afterwards, having completed his run late because of a front wing issue.
“I think the Merc did it on purpose. He did Turn 5 ahead of me, the Alpine Turn 2-3.”
The proximity to Gasly was likely enough to disturb Sainz’s Ferrari through Turn 3 but it is difficult to see how Gasly could have gotten out of the way sooner given the distance between them once Gasly finished his lap.
And Russell looked too far ahead to be causing Sainz any trouble through Turn 5.
But afterwards, Sainz was adamant it had cost him “a couple of tenths and probably a spot in Q2", that “everyone’s doing it” to slightly compromise other drivers, and that his track position meant “you’re going to suffer from that more”.
“There were cars out there today…between us drivers, we know,” said Sainz.
“We know that if you do a corner two seconds in front of another car, you’re gonna make him lose a tenth or two. And I see people as the weekends have gone by, relaxing on that.
“And when it’s tight in Q1 and Q2, I see people giving people a bit of dirty air on purpose in some corners to maybe make the others lose some time in corners we don’t consider [it] impeding because it’s not like you need to lift.
"But you know you’re giving him dirty air and a bad run in that corner.
“By going out last, I made all sector one and two very close to the cars in front and found myself losing tenths and tenths per corner.”
But AlphaTauri driver Ricciardo, who stressed Sainz has “not upset me this weekend”, found the complaints about driver etiquette extremely amusing because: “He’s normally the upset-er!”
Sainz was complained about by McLaren driver Oscar Piastri in practice in Abu Dhabi, as the rookie reported over the radio after being baulked: “Classic Carlos. Just sitting in the middle of the road. Nothing’s changed, I see.”
After qualifying, and while laughing repeatedly, Ricciardo initially joked that he would ask Sainz – who starts directly behind him on the grid – not to brake much into Turn 1 to “upset some people and help me out”.
And while Ricciardo was mainly giving Sainz some good-natured ribbing, he also made it clear that he found it somewhat hypocritical that Sainz was the one complaining.
“He is definitely...I don't know why he does it but he is always the culprit,” said Ricciardo.
“I don't know why. I don't know if he's just messing with us, but he definitely seems to be the one that everyone likes to talk about in terms of impeding and whatever.”
On the subject of Sainz potentially having his laps deliberately spoiled, Ricciardo teased him again, adding: “Oh, he's gonna get what he's given. But he started it.”
Ricciardo did, however, seem to agree that “we know what we’re doing” when drivers stealthily get in each other’s ways but felt that happens more in practice.
He said that can also “rub you the wrong way” because impeding in qualifying results in a penalty.
“That's when probably we get most frustrated, as it's like, OK, we're honestly not fighting for positions in practice,” said Ricciardo.
“So that's where it probably upsets you more.
“Qualifying, there will probably be a penalty, but it's more practice where maybe you feel they'll get away with it.
“But it's alright. He's good. Love him. Awesome. Good job, Carlos. We'll move through the pack tomorrow!”