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Austrian GP marshals respond to Sainz’s criticism

Carlos Sainz at the Austrian GP. Credits: Reddit.

The Austrian Grand Prix marshals released a statement following Carlos Sainz’s comments on their reaction to his car fire.

Carlos Sainz was forced to stop his car due to an engine failure at turn 4 of the Red Bull Ring last Sunday. The car caught fire shortly after, but the Spaniard was not leaving the cockpit as the vehicle was not in a stationary position. When the situation became critical, Sainz jumped out of the cockpit.

Sainz was not happy with the reaction of the marshals to the incident, saying that “the whole process was a bit slow”. Later on, the safety crew of the track explained their actions.

“After the terrible accident of Jules Bianchi in 2014, the FIA’s rules regarding recoveries and interventions on the track have been drastically tightened,” the statement read.

“Intervention is only allowed after instructions from race control. On the one hand, this naturally increases the safety of the drivers and marshals, but on the other hand, it has the disadvantage that interventions take a little longer.

“Several unfortunate circumstances came together. The place where Sainz parked the Ferrari was not visible from the marshals’ stand. They received instructions over the radio to go to the car with fire extinguishers, and when they saw the situation, they made the decision to call in the fire engine.

“This decision had to be made within seconds and, in retrospect, was absolutely correct. If you remember [Romain] Grosjean’s accident, in a situation like that, hand-held fire extinguishers are absolutely not enough. Therefore, the fire extinguisher was turned off and the car was [left], which led to that unfortunate image on TV of the marshal “running away”.

“Another problem was that Sainz, understandably, became nervous in the vehicle and went off the brakes too early. The wedge had to be pushed under the rolling vehicle, which of course made the whole thing extremely difficult. However, due to the resistance of the wedge, the vehicle steered in and stopped at the guard rail. Afterwards, the fire could be extinguished with a few pushes of the extinguisher.

“Of course, in retrospect, when you look at the TV pictures and recordings from the track cameras, you find things that need to be improved. We will also discuss these internally and together with our people.

“But in this exceptional situation, because a fire is not an everyday occurrence for us either, the marshals reacted well on the whole.

“We had a fire engine on the scene in less than 30 seconds, which would have brought a fast-spreading fire under control. Since Grosjean’s accident, it is very important for us to have a lot of “extinguishing power” on the spot immediately in order to protect the driver in the best possible way.

“Another emergency vehicle was already standing by and a third was on its way. Even if Sainz had not come out of the vehicle on his own, we would have been able to protect him in the best possible way.

“We are a team of motorsport enthusiasts who sacrifice their free time for training and exercises in order to do our best for safety along the track at such events. We will also take this incident as an opportunity to improve further.”

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