Carlos Sainz Jr says there is “very little logic” behind the decision that blocks him from testing for Ferrari in Formula 1’s post-season Abu Dhabi test, while Sebastian Vettel says the situation hasn’t been handled in a fair way.
Ferrari had hoped the ‘young driver’ test would be opened up to drivers switching teams in 2021, after an exception was made to allow Renault to run two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, and then for other experienced former drivers Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi.
Renault said its exception to the rule that only lets drivers to have started no more than two F1 races take part in the test was in recognition of its efforts for young drivers, and those of Alonso’s, but that did not explain why Kubica and Buemi were also allowed to take part for Alfa Romeo and Red Bull respectively.
Ferrari said it would be “common sense” for that to be opened up to more but the rulemakers have decided it was only appropriate to also allow drivers who have not raced in a grand prix in 2020.
That means the likes of Sainz (switching from McLaren to Ferrari), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari to Racing Point) and Daniel Ricciardo (Renault to McLaren) cannot participate, and that is particularly hard on Sainz as Ferrari had said it definitely would have made a car available for him if permitted.
Asked by The Race if the logic has been explained to him and if he felt it was unfair, Sainz said: “No, there hasn’t been any logic explained to me because first of all I think there’s very little logic behind it, and I think not many people really understand what’s going on.
“Of course I’m disappointed not being able to test but I have to accept it and turn the page. I will make sure I’m prepared as much as I can for next year.”
While participation in the one-day Abu Dhabi test may seem of a negligible advantage, it is a very useful headstart in the context of a reduced 2021 pre-season programme of only three days.
Vettel, who is being replaced by Sainz at Ferrari and will instead join Racing Point, has echoed the Spaniard’s sentiments over the handling of the test – after Racing Point had said it would’ve also liked to put its new driver in its car in Abu Dhabi.
“I’s not my decision to take,” he acknowledged, before saying: “I think, if you allow Fernando then basically you have to allow everyone. So I think the governance should take a fair decision – which in this case I don’t think they did because otherwise Carlos, and some others and myself maybe, would have had the opportunity to test.
“I don’t know the background why you make up your mind and just do case by case but I haven’t looked at the full explanation.”
Ferrari is likely to make an older car available for Sainz to test in January, as well as an enhanced simulator programme, to try to get him up to speed with his engineers and Ferrari’s processes.
“The logical thing would have been to open a bit the hand to all of the drivers who wanted to take part in the Abu Dhabi test, especially knowing it’s two cars per team,” said Sainz.
“To open one of the cars to at least fit the driver into a car, knowing that next year it’s the same chassis, and see that everything is more or less working well, the safety aspects from the jump out test, the fitting of the car itself is obviously primarily important.
“Those are the things that thanks to the Abu Dhabi test we would have been able to sort out and get a bit of a headstart on and unfortunately it’s not happening.
“Obviously I’m disappointed but nothing I can change.”