The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) were left angered by the way the FIA announced the tire issues impacting the Qatar Grand Prix, according to Carlos Sainz.
An FIA statement on Saturday announced changes to the track layout and an extra familiarization session for the drivers before competitive sessions began, in response to initial signs of damage to the tires caused by the curbs at the Lusail International Circuit. Pirelli will analyze the tires used on Saturday overnight before letting the FIA decide if a three-stop race will be mandated on Sunday — including minimum stint lengths — but Sainz says the drivers were not informed before the news became public.
“If it’s necessary for safety then we have to do it,” Sainz said. “What I don’t appreciate and don’t like is that we were here in 2021, in the meantime there’s been two years to react to these bad curbs, there’s been a resurface, there’s been a [reprofile] of the curbs, and for some reason the FIA persisted with this design of curbs that are killing Pirelli tires. I’m not blaming Pirelli but clearly there is something going on there.
“At the same time, we arrived today in the morning and we see the news in the press. No one informs us that there’s going to be track limits, then no one tells us that the tire is delaminating or anything like that, and we have to learn things from the press which is clearly not how things should be done.
“As the GPDA, we were not happy with the situation and we hope that the collaboration starts getting better because, if not, reading things in the press when our safety is involved and our input should be considered is not good enough.”
Max Verstappen is pleased safety is being prioritized but says the situation has highlighted how quickly the FIA and circuits can react to track limits issues.
“I think it’s never a good look for the sport,” Verstappen said. “But let’s first wait and see what they come up with, what the analysis [says] after the sprint race, what their findings are. Even in the sprint race you could see there was a lot of deg in the front tires, especially the front left was wearing a lot. It’s very tough around here.
“They already changed two corners in the high speed corners. I find [it] quite interesting how quickly these things can be changed, but when we speak about [wanting] to have track limits changed here and there with the white line or whatever, it’s all very hard.
“I think that’s also something for the future that we need to speak about, because I think we need to be heard a lot more, and in general, I think tomorrow it’s important that safety is foremost, and that we don’t get any punctures or worse accidents. Let’s see what happens tonight.”
Sprint winner Oscar Piastri says Pirelli and the FIA are dealing with the situation they are faced with the best they can, regardless of the catalyst.
“I think today’s sprint probably…didn’t get the best read on what the tires are going to do, with so many laps behind the safety car,” Piastri said. “I think Pirelli [and] the FIA need to be sensible going into tomorrow. Obviously if a tire lets go going through a high-speed section, yes there is quite a bit of run off, but it’s not a very enticing prospect.
“We’ll see what they do. Obviously it’s not ideal for anybody to be in this position, but I think it’s been at least encouraging they’ve been willing to try things to keep us safe. It would be preferable it didn’t happen in the first place, but there’s not much we can do about that now.”
No decision will be taken on any further changes being made or if maximum stint lengths will be imposed until Sunday morning, with the teams to be informed by the FIA in a meeting at 14:00 local time.