Race restart, Albert Park, 2023

Sainz fumes over “the most unfair penalty I’ve ever seen” for Alonso clash

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr said the penalty which cost him fourth place in the Australian Grand Prix was the most unfair decision he has ever seen.

The Ferrari driver collided with Fernando Alonso at turn one during the final standing restart of the race with two laps to go. Sainz was given a five-second time penalty for the contact.

The race concluded under Safety Car conditions. Sainz crossed the finishing line in fourth place but as so many cars were bunched up behind him he dropped out of the points in the final classification, taking 12th place.

He spoke briefly to the official Formula 1 channel before leaving to meet with the stewards, saying he did not want to incur another penalty for being late.

“Right now I cannot talk I’m too angry, too disappointed,” said the Ferrari driver. “I just cannot say anything.

“I prefer to go to a stewards, get the penalty away because I don’t think I deserve it and is the most unfair penalty I’ve seen in my life. So I will go first to a stewards. I just need to come to the TV pen because if I don’t come, they put me another penalty.”

Sainz was also given two penalty points on his licence for the collision. He did not have any on his licence before today’s race.

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The stewards said he was “wholly to blame” for the collision, but did consider it as the equivalent of a first-lap incident, which are ordinarily treated more leniently.

“Car 14 [Alonso] was significantly ahead of car 55 [Sainz] at the first corner and nevertheless car 55 drove into car 14, causing it to spin and leave the track. We accordingly imposed a five-second penalty on car 55.

“For avoidance of doubt, we took into account the fact that this collision took place at the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.

“However, in this particular case, notwithstanding the fact that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for car 55 to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.”

Sainz was informed of his penalty on his radio by race engineer Riccardo Adami during the red-flag period before the final restart. He strongly criticised the decision and said he must be given the opportunity to put his case before the stewards.

“No, it cannot be, Ricky,” said Sainz. “Do I deserve to be out of the points? No. No, it’s unacceptable. Tell them it is unacceptable, they need to wait until the race is finished, but discuss with me.

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“No please. Please, please, please, please, please to wait, to wait and discuss with me. Clearly, the penalty is not deserved, it’s too severe.”

Sainz continued to plead with his team. Sporting director Laurent Mekies told him they would take the matter up with the stewards.

SainzPlease guys, do something, please. I cannot believe it. We are P3 and P4 and they want to put me out of the points for that, for a one lap incident. So unfair. I cannot believe they do this to me.
MekiesIt’s clear, Carlos, it’s clear. Let’s finish that race and we’ll discuss here.
SainzLet me at least discuss with the stewards, in the stewards’ room.
MekiesOf course we will go and see them just after we get out of the car.

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    Keith Collantine
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    58 comments on “Sainz fumes over “the most unfair penalty I’ve ever seen” for Alonso clash”

    1. Watching the replays I don’t think Sainz would have made the corner if he didn’t use Alonso as a brake. So I think the penalty was deserved, though obviously unfortunate in that it effectively meant being demoted out of the points.

      1. I disagree. I think it was just a racing incident. However even more unfair is that the lap was effectively deleted from the race so it seems a bit strange that his penalty stands given there was no consequence in the end .. the FIA rules need looking at regarding red flag restarts as they are always going to be risky when there is only 1 or 2 laps left as everyone is going to go crazy trying to gain a position. They should have ended the race under the safety car like they had to do in the end anyway. You would have thought they would have learned their lesson from the Hamilton verstappen incident in 2021….

        1. Half agree and half disagree: I think they learnt something from the hamilton and verstappen incident in 2021, because they very quickly brought out the red flag, if they had done it back then they’d have been on the same tyres for the end I suppose, we wouldn’t have had a situation where one was on 40 laps newer tyres or something; I think the same about sainz: since the lap was deleted, aside from the fact the alpines retired, there was no need to penalize sainz.

          1. A red flag restart with a couple of laps to go is always just going to result in a stampede of cars into the corners… It is far more fair and far safer to simply end the race under safety car.

        2. There was a pretty big consequence for the Alpines.

      2. I don’t know if he would have made the corner or not.. But it seems irrelevant. It was a clear penalty either ways. Alonso was in front of him and racing hard, he can’t just dive bomb on a restart and expect drivers in front to leave the track to avoid contact.

        I just don’t get his whining… The timing of the penalty was unfortunate for him, but the penalty was 100% deserved

        1. I think they took same decision as last year COTA, when Russel was penalized in a similar crash…and the driver in front of him (Sainz?) was trying to do same cross line manouver as Alonso did yesterday.

    2. Carlos Sainz needs to look at what he’s done. If he still doesn’t understand the penalty, he might want to hand in his superlicense.

      1. What he seems to fail to accept is that a five second penalty is the most lenient penalty in the rule book for “causing a collision” simply because it had an outsized impact due to the situation. It was either no penalty or make something up.

        1. I think consequences need to be taken into account for stuff like this, I know they purposefully don’t do that, but I disagree it’s a good idea: to me that alonso lost the points rather that he kept them matters, and that a driver can keep his position by building a 5 sec gap, or in this case drop out of the points cause they’re all stacked matters, I’d like to see some more dynamic to penalties; as it is atm you either get non penalties (hamilton silverstone 2021) or too severe like here.

    3. The most ridiculous thing is the starting grid for the farce lap was as if the crash lap didn’t happen, but Sainz penalty was as if that lap happened

      1. Exactly, If FIA’s conception of time is determined sector by sector, when did Sainz make a mistake? The cars went to their previous positions and everything was like never happened after the restart, but Sainz was nevertheless penalized?

      2. Sainz’s penalty was for a driving infringement – it wasn’t reliant on timing.
        The restart order, on the other hand….

        It’s really interesting just how few people understand F1’s rules.
        Definitely a constant problem in F1 viewership – for at least the 35+ years I’ve been watching it, anyway.

    4. These guys are infinitely ridiculous. Verstappen crying over radio that Hamilton pushed him off. Now Sainz. This is not the “personality” and “F1 drivers have to be like this”. Children after they reach a certain age start taking responsibility for their actions instead of blaming the entire world. But these guys never grow up.
      This would be the same penalty at start of the race or any other restarts. You miss the breaking point, you crash into your opponent, you get a penalty. So, Sainz, shut up.

      1. That’s correct

        However the Aston driver didn’t get a penalty for putting Leclerc out

        1. Charles put Charles out. Once again.

        2. Lance had nowhere to go and Leclerc was over-ambitious in that incident.

      2. They’ve gotten as bad as footballers. That and we hear all their radio messages now.

      3. Pretty sure it’s always been like this, it’s just that we ca hear everything in real time nowadays.

    5. Deserved penalty, but ultimately Wittich’s fault.

      1. Yep, 100%. Agree with the penalty and the 5 second severity, but the outside circumstances which caused it is so brutally unfair, including to the Alpines.

      2. I reckon you’ll find it was Sainz driving the car – not Wittich.
        Bit of a stretch to blame the race director for allowing the drivers to drive. What they do with that opportunity is entirely on them.

      3. 18 minutes 🙄

        1. Simon, are you just posting updates on how quick JereJJ comments on articles?

          He’s a long term contributor here, and his posts aren’t without merit.

    6. Might be in minority here but I think it’s harsh. It was effectively a void lap and Alonso got his P3 back. Seems to still be inconsistent penalties being applied with regards to standing starts in the early corners.

      1. Raymond Pang
        2nd April 2023, 11:05

        Correct on the inconsistency. Sargeant drove into the back of De Vries and got nothing.

        1. +1
          Except that Sargeant’s move put himself out of the race – and in crazy F1 land that means he’s effectively already served a sporting penalty.

        2. I expect a penalty for Sargeant to follow

          1. Even if it does it’s the so called pointless penalty, in such a situation (sainz and everyone being stacked up) I’d like to see “1 position penalties”, 5 sec turns out to be massive.

      2. I suppose a good comparison would be if they gave George a penalty for causing the collision with Zhou at Silverstone last year, as that lap was also voided but I don’t think he did get any penalty for the next race. unless I’m mistaken!

      3. It’s not inconsistent. Both decisions were applied to the letter of the law (the Sainz penalty and the count back). The problem is that, like almost every rule book in the world, you can’t write a penalty to have the most equitable impact for every single possible scenario.

        The truly horrifying thing is what the race director considers worthy of a VSC, SC or RF. It’s at the point I expect them to issue SCs if they even see the shadow of a bird on the track.

        1. Of course it is inconsistent, there is plenty of examples of collisions on standing starts going unpunished. One such being Sargeant on De Vries on the same restart. Plus stewards have frequently applied penalties or given “no further action” based on discretion.

    7. So, in Zandvoort 2022 Hamilton was clearly in front of Alonso yet they penalized him for not leaving enough room.
      Today Alonso was clearly in front of Sainz, but they penalized Sainz for not lifting his foot.

      Whatever happens, Alonso can’t do no wrong apparently.

    8. These are the same “expert stewards” that under normal circumstances take 50 laps to look at lap 1 incidents and then decide not to do anything. Since Alonso got his place back, the better play was to ignore this and move on.

      If the FIA is going to mess with the race to such a laughable extent as they did today, they need to go with the flow. They know how, after all, they were more than happy to look the other way multiple times when Red Bull and Alpine were pushing their “woe is us” narrative about their reckless driver Gasly almost getting a race ban.

    9. It comes down to the fact that a small time penalty, in this case 5 seconds, can mean absolutely nothing, or cost the driver’s entire race depending on the circumstances. If they wanted to try and make this small penalty more consistent, they could say end of race penalties of 5 seconds are actually “5 seconds, or one position, whichever is the lesser.” 10 seconds penalties could be either 10 seconds or two positions etc. Or whichever number of positions they think should be the maximum for each penalty. That would minimise the impact when a race ends under safety car or after a late restart.

      1. But not knowing exactly what it will cost is a large part of the deterrent for breaching the rules.
        They all know there’s a chance there could be a late race SC or red flag that dissolves time gaps at any/every event.

      2. 5 seconds, can mean absolutely nothing, or cost the driver’s entire race depending on the circumstances

        Completely agree with this statement @keithedin
        Other than the lack of consistency and varying lengths of time to actually confirm penalties, I think this is the biggest inconsistency with penalties in F1.
        This incident for me was a slam dunk penalty, but the stupidity of the race end made it as substantial as a DSQ.

      3. @keithedin yeah it’s a really inconsistent penalty. My suggestion is to make it a place drop if the penalty isn’t served during the race. 1 place for every 5 seconds? Time penalties are relevant if the race is still live and there are pit stops. Adds a dynamic.

        The other issue for me is that often a 5 second penalty is no penalty at all if someone can pull out a gap. Mercedes abused it when they were dominating. Run someone off the road, take your penalty and open a gap so the penalty evaporates.

      4. Yes, good idea, was thinking about the 1 thing position too.

    10. Am i the only one that saw Alonso turning a bit right?

      1. Probably not. It was a right hand corner….

        Okay, seriously.
        He did take a slightly shallow exit, but there’s still no doubt that Sainz arrived too hot and instigated the contact.
        The penalty was correct.

      2. It was a right hand corner. So, yeah, you saw him turning right. He had no obligation to be running over the dragon’s teeth just because Sainz and Gasly both went into the corner so not neither of them could make the corner whether Alonso was there or not. Gasly and Sainz both played chicken in who would brake last and they both rightfully played for it. If Sainz were a better wheel-to-wheel driver, he would have left Gasly out braked himself and gone around him as he struggled to put any power down coming out of the corner.

    11. The FIA were looking to manipulate another race result with that standing restart. I was hoping Hamilton got passed Verstappen with a clean start to the whole field, and then see Verstappens reaction. He is angry when something goes against him, and happy when he gets away with it. Just like his pathetic complaining of Hamilton passing him on lap 1 with a proper overtake.

      1. Not manipulate, but “add to the show.” The decision to red flag the race and do a standing start showed incompetence and a lack of concern for sporting equity however. Wittich is an absolute tool. A red flag in SA when Stroll was behind a barrier at the slowest turn on the track (the GPS excuse was bogus) shows you this guy and at least some of his staff should not be directing races in any racing series period.

        1. Yes, don’t see how he’s any better than masi really.

    12. I though the penalty was extremely harsh. Sainz was at fault but Alonso has taken the outside line under braking with the intention of cutting back and trying to get a run on Hamilton. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but it’s a very risky move, especially given the nature of the first turn in Melbourne and how many accidents we’ve seen there down the years. There was always a chance that there would to be a car in Sainz’s position that was running wide after taking a tighter line in turn 1. If Alonso was fighting for a championship or this was the first lap of the race I can’t imagine he’d have taken that approach.

      But the incident, and the other crashes on that lap, really do show that F1 shouldn’t be doing standing restarts with so few laps to go. You end up with drivers taking abnormally high risks and Grand Prix results effectively decided by lottery.

      1. It was a standing start and Alonso was ahead in the corner. He is supposed to complete.

    13. First of all, the five second penalty was literally the most lenient penalty available for them to use. Second of all, Sainz wasn’t going to make that corner whether Alonso was there or not. He used him as a brake. Third of all, it was clearly Alonso who was being cautious and Sainz and Gasly taking desperate gambles. Gasly and Sainz were side by side with neither one willing to brake first and you saw the result.

      1. If he hadn’t made the corner and went into the gravel, potentially he could’ve been out of the points as well, however as it turned out they then used the order they were in before the restart, so looks like that would’ve been a better outcome for sainz.

    14. F1 drivers should know by now that touching Alonso means immediate penalty.

    15. Hard earned penalty that, he did well

    16. Neil (@neilosjames)
      2nd April 2023, 15:30

      Fair penalty, but the main fault lies with whoever made the decision that left Alonso and Sainz in that position in the first place.

    17. He was at VERY clearly at fault in a way that goes above and beyond the “first lap” tolerance to racing incidents.
      But the lap is… kinda deemed to have never happened (other than the cars too banged up to rejoin) so I totally understand him.

    18. Some atrocious driving in the past on the first few corners has been swept under the rug because of leniency. False leniency if you ask me. Some degree of leniency, sure, but this was just clumsy stupidity.

    19. I didn’t watch the final safety car lap, but looking at the time gaps, didn’t Sainz mess up a bit by running too far behind Alonso on that final lap? Surely if he’d have been right on his gearbox, he could’ve finished P9 or P10 still even with the +5 secs penalty.

    20. And if Alonso had been unable to continue, would we still be thinking 5 seconds was unfair????

    21. Sargent and Gasly got no penalties, but Sainz received the harshest treatment whilst Alonso got put back on the podium. I think we all agree it was Sainz’s fault but if there’s no harm done then why ruin the man’s race?

    22. You can’t give a penalty to a guy who is out of the race and De Vries was in next to last place. Those guys tend to get ignored. The Gasly thing was patently ridiculous. No penalty only because it would have meant a race ban and they never expected a driver of Gasly’s unique “caliber” to actually rack up that many points.

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