Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2020

McLaren take third in championship as stewards clear Sainz over slowing in pits

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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McLaren have learned they will finish third in the constructors championship following the stewards’ ruling on an investigation concerning Carlos Sainz Jnr.

The team’s cars finished fifth and sixth in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sainz following Lando Norris home. With Racing Point scoring just one point with Lance Stroll, after Sergio Perez retired, McLaren had scored enough points to overhaul their rivals for third place in the constructors’ championship.

However the stewards announced during the race Sainz was under investigation for slowing excessively when he came into the pits. Had he been given a severe penalty, he could have fallen low enough in the finishing order for Racing Point to move ahead of McLaren in the championship.

Sainz came into the pits behind Norris and ahead of Stroll, whose team alleged the McLaren driver drove too slowly, despite Stroll saying the delay “didn’t really cost us much”.

Racing Point claimed Stroll lost time behind Sainz
“He [slowed] and you’re not allowed to do that,” said Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer on during the race Sky. “He went slowly so they could stack them. And what it cost was Lance getting out ahead of him. And now it’s completely changed the race and you’re not allowed to do that.”

Following the race the stewards ruled Sainz did drive slightly below the speed limit, but only for a brief amount of time, and it made a negligible difference. They therefore took no action against the driver.

“Car 55 [Sainz] was advised by its team, that it was 2.4 seconds in front of car 18 [Stroll] approaching the Pit Entry,” they explained. “There was no instruction by the Team to slow down.

“On approaching the start of the pit lane car 55 accelerated then as per normal practice, braked briefly to less than 80 km/h just prior to the line and then accelerated up to 80. This was exactly the same as car four [Lando Norris]. (Car 18 also braked to below 80 prior to the line then accelerated up to 80 as it crossed the line).

“Within the pit lane, car 55 was at 80 kph for all but approximately five seconds when it dropped to no less than 70 kph. We estimate this resulted in car 55 arriving at the pit stop around 0.6 second later than if it had maintained a speed of 80 kph.

“Therefore, we are not of the view that this action in any way resulted in the team avoiding a “double stack” situation as car four was well clear of the pit stop at this time. We also accept the explanation of the driver of car 55 that he was exercising a degree of caution as video evidence confirms the presence of a lot of other teams’ personnel in the pit lane at the time.

“Car 18 was able to maintain a speed of 80 kph in the pit lane except for a very short period of time (approximately 1 second) and therefore we do not consider that it was materially impacted by the actions of the driver of car 55.

“We also checked the relative speeds of the cars after leaving their pit stops and can see no evidence of car 55 driving unnecessarily slowly.”

Although the incident happened early in the race, the stewards did not issue their verdict until afterwards. “Normally the stewards prefer to take decisions of this nature during the race however in this case the necessary telemetry was only available shortly before the finish,” they explained.

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Sainz’s team radio when he pitted

To SainzCarlos we’re boxing this lap.
To SainzIt will be a double shuffle.
SainzCarlos pit lane.
To SainzLeave the launch map on.
To SainzLaunch map, launch map, launch map.
To SainzCould be close to Vettel ahead so use overtake.

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “McLaren take third in championship as stewards clear Sainz over slowing in pits”

  1. They couldn’t do this during the race? seems rather easy to make a decision based on that telemetry…

    1. @fer-no65 there were some commentators cynically suggesting that the stewards decided to delay the decision until after the race so they could then adjust the penalty to suit the outcome of the race, and thus the championship battle, because they were afraid of making the decision during the race that could be seen as influencing the championship battle.

      1. Cynics are the stewards. Russell not getting a penalty last weekend was an exception to the rule, and so was this. Politics!

  2. The stewards originally referenced car five (Vettel), they’ve now corrected that to refer to car four (Norris), and the article has been updated to reflect that.

  3. Glad to see McLaren take third in the championship, against the odds of the faster RPs. Shows the benefits of higher consistency both from the team in terms of reliability, strategy and operations, and having solid drivers on both sides of the garage.

    On the other hand, I do have mixed feelings about the 15 point penalty for RP because it’s a bit of a ‘neither here nor there’ penalty. Either RP did something wrong and 15 points is much too lenient, or they did nothing wrong and they deserve 3rd in the championship. The 15 point penalty just seemed like an arbitrary figure that was designed to appease everyone and make the issue go away. At the time I thought it was doubtful that 15 points would matter but now we see the consequence is actually quite significant.

    1. @keithedin
      I think the 15 point penalty was perfect. The main factor in this is one of practicality – how on earth could racing point possibly redesign their car, at such short notice, without using any of the knowledge gained? They can’t – to suggest such a thing is fairly ridiculous. So the only other solution is to disqualify them from every single grand prix entered. And where do you draw the line? Are they banned from next years races too, as the knowledge of the brake ducts will still be in the engineers heads and so will naturally be used for next years car. Surely this is way too harsh?

      So at one extreme, you have the FIA completely ignoring that racing point did anything wrong, which would be a very dangerous example to set. On the other extreme, you have disqualification from all rounds of both this year and next year and potentially more in the future. Anything in between is essentially going to be an “arbitrary figure”.

      Frankly, albeit by luck, the FIA got it bang on – racing point have been penalised quite heavily by being shunted back down to 4th in the constructors and the loss of money that comes with it.

      1. I disagree. You can’t give them leniency due to the difficulty in redesigning the car. They ought to have given 15 point penalty and then a 5 point penalty for each race they were runnig the same parts.

        1. Without the 15 point penaulty RP would be third so i think RP was punished enough.

          1. The 15 point penalty might look right with hindsight but if Racing Point had finished 3rd there would have been some serious disgruntlement in the paddock.

          2. When McLaren got caught cheating, they lost ALL their constructor points and $100m in a fine as well as the prize money (which would have been substantial).
            When Racing Point get caught cheating they lose 15 points, no fine and they are allowed to continue the season using the same car, deemed illegal enough to warrant the points deduction.
            While there may well be a lot of ifs and buts to justify both, the acute contrast between the punishments suggests that cheating is now viewed commercially.

  4. It was weird that Sky gave Szafnauer the opportunity to bring his case forward during the live coverage.
    His complaint was desperate though and didn’t match the TV images at all but it’s better to hear both sides of the story or wait until the stewards have made their decision instead of allowing someone to spread an unchallenged biased opinion.
    The stewards should have been faster btw. Isn’t there a possibility to provide them with the telemetry data more quickly. It’s hard to understand why it take so long.

    1. Dude never forget that Sky can not control the images. They get the world feed just like everyone else.
      Also the Sky crew mentioned that the incident was not shown by the TV images which were on the world feed.

  5. Stroll did his best to ensure this great result for McLaren. McLaren drivers did a fine job as well.

  6. “Sainz have secured his team qualification for the Champions League!”

  7. Should be interesting next year, Ricciardo helped developed that Renault a lot and will be able to help McLaren improve their slow corner pace which is where the Renault’s are faster and their main weaknesses. That and with the Mercedes engines, new financing, restructuring and headstart in developing the 2021 car, McLaren should have a decent lead over Aston Martin, Renault and Ferrari next year.

    Obviously, this depends on if the transmission goes smoothly but this seems likely to me with their confidence in next year and how they were praising Mercedes in aiding this transition. McLaren might, small chance of this but maybe, challenge Red Bull next year, especially if they keep a dysfunctional second driver. All they need now is to improve their pit times and stop mistakes their which has always been an issue for them.

  8. Methinks for a running pink top coat with black base coat cars, RP actually underperformed this year, albeit morally, they did not deserve 3rd. Anyhow, Master Stroll’s dad can afford it.

    Of concern is that Albon finished a full 40secs quicker that Norris. So after all the $$s spent, will the Merc PU actually not only catch-up, but importantly be ahead of Max, let alone Peres/Albon [strike out the inapplicable].

    Trust McLaren have done their homework, ‘cos if the Aussie GP DOES go ahead [& with 100% crowd capacity], not rocket science that sales of Dan-Merc merchandise will go thru’ the roof. Can’t say that for Alonso-Alpine.

    WOW & WOW!!!! That Reggie V10, particularly with the ‘reverb’ off & under the buildings.

  9. Really glad to see Mclaren take 3rd. Since last season they’ve been maximising every opportunity and pushing hard against faster machines. Operationally, they’ve started looking like front runners again, and it feels only like a matter of time before they get the car right and start fighting the top 3 for podiums and wins.

    I’m also really pleased that Racing point didn’t get 3rd in the WCC. Would have been a travesty to see Mercedes’ 2019 challenger take the win among the midfield teams. Force Inda was a team that I admired for its ingenuity and fighting spirit, so I was disappointed when Racing point took the Haas’ 2018 route of becoming a copycat team and took the easy route to regular podiums.

    Lawrence Stroll might have to answer the rest of his investors as to why they didn’t seal 3rd in the WCC. I don’t see the rest of Aston Martin racing tolerating this kind of underperformance due to nepotism.

  10. I thought the penalty was for the rules infraction, not the result of the rules infraction?

  11. Yes, was interesting to follow the battle and at some point mclaren was 2 points ahead, I think they were 10 points behind and needed 11 since force india had a win, and were getting 18 points with force india getting 6, so very close, but perez was recovering, had almost caught the ferraris before getting the problem and was sure to get into the points otherwise, would’ve been a great battle, shame, considering he was the only one who had a problem in the race. Overall I think mclaren deserved 3rd a bit more, what with force india cheating a bit with mercedes copying and making a silly decision to fire perez and get vettel, mr. underperformance, but for the car they had both were deserving, but can’t say I’m unhappy mclaren got 3rd ofc, for force india it’d have been the first ever 3rd while they usually came 4th with little money and for mclaren it’s a sort of comeback to winning ways, it was since 2012 that they didn’t bring a better car than this I believe.

    1. it was since 2012 that they didn’t bring a better car than this I believe.

      @esploratore
      That’s crazy.. that this is the best car Mclaren has produced in 8 seasons. I hope things get better for them from here onwards. I don’t think they’ll be able to match this result next season as it’s going to be a year of teething with the Mercedes engines, but 2022, I think they should be a genuine contender to Ferrari and Red Bull.

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