Carlos Sainz has expressed displeasure at the attitude of long-time Dakar Rally rival Nasser Al-Attiyah at the Extreme E season opener, the Desert X-Prix in Saudi Arabia, after the pair’s collision during qualifying on Saturday.
Sainz, driving for his eponymous team, and new Abt Cupra signing Al-Attiyah were drawn together in heat one of the second qualifying round, going head-to-head alongside Team X44 and Chip Ganassi Racing.
Midway through the first lap Al-Attiyah attempted a dive down the inside but carried too much speed, putting his Odyssey 21 onto two wheels and missing the next set of waypoint gates.
As he returned to the racing line, Al-Attiyah collided with Sainz, who smashed head-first into the rear-right quarter of the wayward Abt Cupra machine.
Al-Attiyah was later demoted to last place in the heat by stewards and deducted two intermediate points.
There had initially been a claim by Al-Attiyah that his car was suffering a power steering failure but a statement from the stewards read that “car data of car Nº125 showed no malfunction before and just after the incident.”
Sainz was understanding of the mistake but felt Al-Attiyah’s lack of remorse for it thereafter was a problem.
“When something like that happens – it can happen to any of us – normally you come and say sorry, I tried, I came in front of you.
“But then Nasser, I think he said the power steering was broken or something, but later on with the telemetry, I knew it was not the case. It was a little bit funny I will say. It is what it is. Expensive.
“It can happen to anybody but when you do a mistake like that, normally you come and say sorry.”
Al-Attiyah claimed he was willing to accept the stewards’ decision but still felt Sainz was at fault for the collision regardless.
“I think it was a race you know, and I get my line and I pass Carlos. Then I was a little bit wide, I was on two wheels, I cannot manage to come back in four wheels; then I missed the flag and suddenly I get hit in my side.
“If it’s an accident, I think he crashed our car. This was not my mistake.
“OK, I will get a penalty for passing the flag but I got hit at 150 kilometers per hour [90mph]. But OK, this was a race.
“I’m sorry for what happened but I think we need to keep going. We found ourselves in the stewards and I respect the decision of what I got.”