Renault driver Carlos Sainz blamed Williams rival Sergey Sirotkin for the clash that ended all his hopes of a good result in the Russian Grand Prix.
Sainz and Sirotkin made contact on the opening lap of the Sochi race when the Russian found himself with nowhere to go in his run up to Turn 2, where he was sandwiched between the Renault and the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.
Sirotkin ended up hitting the right side of Sainz’s car, causing heavy damage to the sidepod and the floor.
Sainz continued in the race but struggled for pace, running over a second slower than his normal pace, as he was lacking downforce.
“Very tough, very hard to accept after I started better with the softs than everybody with the hypersofts,” said Sainz. “I overtook a couple of them under braking.
“Then Sirotkin went guns blazing. I didn’t feel the impact but apparently he touched me and broke all the right sidepod and all the right floor, which was all cracked, and right after Turn 3 I started to feel that the car was not going well and that it would be a long race.
“I was losing I don’t know how many points of downforce. The car was oversteering a lot.
“From there it was just a race about trying to stay out, slow down the Haas and the Saubers for Nico to open the gap to them, but even so, the car was so bad that it was very hard,” added Sainz.
Sirotkin, starting his home race from 13th place, admitted he was left with no place to go.
“After the start we ended up between two cars,” he said. “I had a good start. At Turn 2 I was between two cars that squeezed me, I lost all momentum, lost all the positions that I’d won at the start and then ended up in a very bad position on exit.
“I don’t know how damaged the car was in the contact, the next few laps were literally survival.”
Sainz believes a points finish would have been possible without the incident, as he was running some positions ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who finished 12th.
“I knew perfectly that scoring was impossible with this car,” he said. “It was a 1-1.5 seconds slower than I’ve been all weekend.
“It was more about trying to help the team.
“I’m sure we could have scored with a normal car. In fact, I think Nico was very close and if you keep in mind I was ahead of Nico after the start I think I maybe I could have held the Haas and Force Indias behind.
“It’s very frustrating because it’s a missed chance but these things happen in the races. It wasn’t my fault.”
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