Race restart, Albert Park, 2023

Ferrari launches bid to overturn Sainz’s penalty for Alonso collision

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Ferrari has formally requested that the FIA reviews its decision to penalise Carlos Sainz Jnr in the Australian Grand Prix.

Team principal Frederic Vasseur told media including RaceFans the team began the process on Thursday. An FIA spokesperson confirmed it has received Ferrari’s request.

Sainz was given a five-second time penalty for colliding with Fernando Alonso during the final standing restart on the penultimate lap of the race. He went on to finish in fourth place, but his penalty relegated him to 12th, outside of the points.

After learning of his penalty during the red flag period before the race’s final lap, Sainz urged his team to request a hearing with the stewards. Vasseur said the stewards’ decision to issue Sainz’s penalty immediately without speaking to the driver was not consistent with their handling of another incident involving Alpine team mates Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

“It’s where the frustration came from because we had the feeling that the Ocon-Gasly situation was treated a bit differently,” said Vasseur in response to a question from RaceFans.

After race Sainz he had been given “the most unfair penalty I’ve ever seen”. Vasseur said his driver was “devastated” by the decision. “With Carlos for sure the morale as you can imagine was completely down and I had to help him a little bit on Sunday evening. You heard on the radio that he was completely devastated with the situation.”

The collision between Sainz and Alonso was one of three incidents which occured after the race restarted on lap 57, but the only one which resulted in a penalty being issued. Sainz made contact with Alonso at the exit of turn one, knocking the Aston Martin driver into a spin. Alonso was able to recover and went on to finish third.

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The stewards ruled Sainz was “wholly responsible” for the collision. They acknowledged the contact took place on the first lap following a standing start “when, by convention, the stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents” but felt “there was sufficient gap for car 55 [Sainz] to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.”

However the steward saw the collision between Gasly and Ocon differently, calling it “a first lap racing incident.” Gasly ran wide at the same corner as Sainz, after approaching it side-by-side with the Ferrari driver, then went off the track. After Gasly rejoined at turn two he tangled with Ocon, which put both Alpine drivers out of the race. The stewards spoke to the pair afterwards and declined to penalise either of them.

A third incident at the restart was not investigated by the stewards. Logan Sargeant ran into the back of Nyck de Vries as they braked for turn one, ending the race for both drivers.

Vasseur said his team had taken note of both other incidents. “About Gasly-Ocon, for sure we had also Sargeant-De Vries at turn one and the reaction of the stewards was not the same. But I prefer to avoid to make them come into it.”

Aston Martin successfully used the right of review to overturn a five-second time penalty Alonso received during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last month. It is a two-stage process. First the team must convince the stewards they have new information which should be reconsidered. If the stewards agree to that, the incident is then reviewed a decision taken whether to change the original verdict.

“What we expect is at least to have an open discussion with them and also for the good of the sport, to avoid to have this kind of decision when you have three cases on the same corner and not the same decision,” said Vasseur.

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“The biggest frustration was – and you heard it on the radio – to not have hearings. Because the case was very special. And in this case, I think it would have made sense considering that the race was over, it was not affecting the podium, to have the hearing as Gasly and Ocon had.”

Vasseur is hopeful the team will be able to overturn Sainz’s penalty and restore him to fourth place in the race.

“It is up to the stewards to decide what is the right penalty. But for me at least for Carlos, for the team, to reopen the discussion, it’s a first step. Now the outcome of this will be up to the FIA, that we have no argumentation.

“For sure we are expecting the review of the decision because it’s a petition for review that we are not going there to get the same result.”

Sainz’s radio messages after his penalty

Lap: 57/58
AdamiWe have five seconds penalty
SainzNo, it cannot be, Ricky. They need to wait until the race is finished and analyse the incident it with me. They need to wait. It’s only 10 minutes left ’til I come in the stewards room and explain it.
SainzHe said that we’re going to finish P3. And then we’re going to finish before. Why do you need to put me out of the points? It is unacceptable. I cannot accept this. It’s impossible. It’s so unfair. It’s a racing incident, lap one.
AdamiAnd K2 is available. And charge button on for the first part.
Lap: 58/58
MekiesIt’s clear, Carlos. It’s clear. Let’s finish that race, and we’ll discuss here.
SainzBut let me at least discuss with the stewards in the stewards’ room.
MekiesOf course we’ll go and see them, just after you get out of the car.

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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41 comments on “Ferrari launches bid to overturn Sainz’s penalty for Alonso collision”

  1. This is the cost letting Gasly get away with no penalty to avoid a race ban.

    1. cost of*

    2. I guess why noboby is reporting the most similar case which happened in last year COTA event.
      Russell bumped on Sainz sidepod, still first lap and first corner.
      Result: 5 seconds penalty for Russell.
      Judges decided the same for Sainz this year, we always speak about consistency and this time judges decision is consistent.
      In regards of Gasly-Ocon and Sergeant-DeVries I believe that judges have been totally lenient because their accidents happened as a consequence of Sainz-Alonso collision which generated caos for following drivers, none of these have been judged because positions were brought back to the previous lap, so also this last argument makes no sense.
      To me, decision is good as it is…

      1. Excellent points Pflite. I hadn’t looked at it that way, but now having read your explanation, it all makes a lot more sense.

      2. Pflite, in the case of Gasly, it’s somewhat debatable whether you can blame the Sainz-Alonso incident.

        Gasly had locked his right front brake and was already on a trajectory that was going to take him across the grass at high speed irrespective of what happened between Sainz and Alonso – that part of the incident is entirely down to Gasly’s own actions, not that of Sainz.

        After returning to the track, the line he took across the track was one that was going to cut across the path of anybody who had taken a normal line through the first corner – Gasly started on the left hand side of the circuit, and ended up hitting Ocon on the right hand side of the track. Even without that collision, the trajectory that Gasly took was one that had a high risk of hitting somebody due to the way that he was cutting across the normal racing line and inconsistent with the way in which drivers are supposed to rejoin the circuit after running off the road.

        1. In normal racing conditions I would totally blame Gasly but, this time, he had to leave the track to avoid initial crash, once he returned on the track he had cars on the right overtaking him (a Haas, a McLaren and an Alpha Tauri), he lost grip and controlled his car a couple of times when re-accelerating and looking at the steering wheel it doesn’t seem he has changed direction. Maybe he was also worried that someone could eventually hit him at the back, being slower he had to accelerate. Also looking at Ocon’s onboard cam, at a certain point it was almost clear he was going into a danger zone, but didn’t back off. Both of them could have been a little more cautious and back-off a little, but we all know backing-off is not normal in car racing…So, given the whole messed up race conditions, and not seeing a an intentional manouver from Gasly, IMO, it seems fair not to take actions.

    3. I think there is more going on here. Drivers who cause collisions with their own teammates are far less likely to incur penalties than drivers who cause collisions with cars from other teams. The idea is that the team can sort it out themselves internally.

      1. That is part of it for sure.

  2. Hope Karun Chandhok did a good analysis of the incident as usual :)

  3. I genuinely believe Australia 2023 will be a watershed moment for the sport; I think the true intentions of the sport’s hierarchy will be revealed depending on whether that finale was not only acceptable, but the preferred outcome. Perhaps the new norm will be, “safety is paramount, particularly if it generates 4 minutes of YouTube content”. Some media puppets are already claiming the outcome was ‘perfect’.

    What worries me is that most long term F1 fans saw standing restarts as a crashfest from their proposal. This certainly doesn’t absolve Sainz of his responsibility, but context is important here. I count 4 drivers in too deep at turn 1 – Sainz, Gasly, Perez and Sargeant. Then Stroll too at turn 3. That’s a third of the grid who were unable to get their tyres into the right temperature range. I’d argue Max is in a bit hot in 1 and Hulk and Norris a bit hot in 3 also.

    But my main argument for this penalty being rescinded is – what are we punishing him for exactly? Aston Martin can’t claim to be disadvantaged as they were 11th and 12th at the end of lap 57 and 3rd and 5th at the start of lap 58. This can’t make sense – either you void the lap 57 crash and it doesn’t exist or you need to use the position as the red flag fell. I was a race director at a kart circuit for many years and in large crashes you simply restart the race. Therefore no penalty can be applied.

    I think the Alpine crash was caused by Gasly and the reason he’s not been punished more is that Alpine are unlikely to lodge a protest against themselves. Either way, I think if you’re out at a red flag and there is countback then it’s hard luck – like at Spa 1998.

    There’s no totally fair way to judge these incidents – a red flag is rarely no-ones fault on ‘lap 1’. But the sport went through a super officious period in the mid 2010s which we have tried to move on from. I’d give Sainz penalty points and review why the Magnussen incident was a red flag in the first place. A five second penalty at a safety car finish is akin to a DSQ and not the same as one applied on the real first lap of a race.

    This is such a mess from top to bottom – I hope the sport use this as an example for years to come.

    1. But my main argument for this penalty being rescinded is – what are we punishing him for exactly?

      Causing a collision. The consequences of the collision are irrelevant for the purposes of giving a penalty – that’s been the case for years.

      1. Sargeant and Gasly both caused a collision within the same corner, there was another collision with De Vries earlier in the race that went unpunished too.

        So I suppose that depends on whether one believes penalties should be applied with context of consequence or not. Personally, I think the consequence for the other driver is vital in assessing the punishment. If one driver deliberately runs his championship rival off the road it’s fairly clear it’s a deliberate action so should be treated more harshly than an innocuous contact.

        My overarching point though is that, if the restart is void, then how can he be punished? The crime is not losing control of his car – but impeding Alonso’s race. But the red flag negated Alonso’s losses. Had Alonso retired then, of course, it’s a penalty for Sainz. But Alonso cannot be considered to be both 11th and 3rd simultaneously – that can’t make sense.

        Therefore the start must be void and the penalty void – I think the stewards applied the penalty before deciding to go back to the original grid order. If they made the decision based on the red flag positions, it’s a penalty, if not it isn’t in my mind.

      2. Jolyon Palmer covered it very nicely.
        In summary, and my phraseology
        Sargeant/De Vries – rookie mistake by Sergeant applying lock and braking thus getting a lockup.
        Anyone who has driven on a black-ice road will no you don’t change direction and brake hard.
        LS took out De Vries. Probable penalty next race. (not done)

        Gasly/Ocon Both at fault. Gasly was driving like, er, Gasly. and Ocon, like, yeah Ocon. Ocon could have eased off/braked, Gasly could have left space for the car he must have known was there even if he didn’t know it was his team-mate (would he care?)
        They took each other out. Penalise both. (not done)


        Totally Saintz. Alonso was pranged by Saintz who came into the corner hot and probably would have gone off track without the course-correction bouncing off Alonso.
        Saintz also benefited by a place while knocking his rival to the back of the running order. Penalise Saintz. (done with standard penalty)

        In the interests of fairness, the stewards should review and apply the required penalties to Sergeant, Gasly and Ocon.
        Prepare for a sulky Gasly if that happens.

        1. I thought Gasly was to blame (as Palmer suggests – like you said, nicely covered). He just drifted across track and should have allowed room for Ocon who was entitled to try to pass. I presume they didn’t penalize as it was two Alpines.

          1. He just drifted across track and should have allowed room for Ocon who was entitled to try to pass

            Refer back to one of the famous ones: Vettel / Hamilton in Canada 2019.
            Vettel could have avoided drifting right and setting up a “collide with me or the wall”, and Hamilton could have braked sharply to avoid the pinch. Hamilton did brake sharply and there was no collision. Vettel got a penalty for the unsafe re-entry to the track.

            Gasly/Ocon – neither one wanted to make the effort to avoid the collision. Both deserve a penalty.

          2. The problem was also that Vettel rejoined the track unsafely before closing off space into the wall. Hamilton had pushed him into that mistake for numerous laps. In terms of Ocon, I imagine he thought Gasly would give him space and so had no real time to react (Gasly was probably distracted and unsighted) whereas Hamilton was probably ready for Vettel to make just that kind of deliberate move. Also the difference between both having penalties and neither having penalties when they’ve both gone out anyhow (and from the same team) seems OK to me. It’s already a heavy loss for Alpine. I’m not sure what the penalties really do to rebalance anything given the only ones affected were the Alpine drivers and team.

        2. SreveP

          mistake by Sergeant apply

          I think you meant Sargeant on more than one occasion.

          black-ice road will no you

          I think you meant “know”

          by Saintz

          I think you meant Sainz on multiple occasions.

    2. @rbalonso
      The red-flagging in Albon’s incident is also review-worthy, but overall, a well-put & COTD-worthy post.
      The overall situation is unnecessarily messy, so changing for the better should come first in priority order.
      What earlier collision involving De Vries? I don’t recall anything unless you mean the contact with Ocon at T3, after which De Vries slightly forced Bottas off track at the next corner.

      1. Now bigging-up “COTD-worthy” posts. Not just once (which is once too many) but several times? 🤢

  4. Good luck, but they could’ve & should’ve done so shortly after rather than four days after.

  5. If Sainz is upset by the penalty, he needs to start by looking in the mirror. It’s always going to be harsh getting a time penalty late in a disrupted race, and a couple of other drivers could conceivably have been investigated for similar mistakes at the restart too.

    But none of that changes the fact that he braked too late and took out another driver. He wouldn’t have made the corner at all if Alonso hadn’t been there. A five-second penalty was absolutely justified in the circumstances, and the only person to blame is Sainz himself.

    1. I agree with this, the penalty for Sainz was correct. The error was in not penalizing the other two drivers who were clearly at fault in their respective incidents. You could only make a case for Gasly avoiding his because there’s obvious precedent in the past for not penalizing collisions between team mates, but I never personally agreed with that exception either.

      The race director and steward teams need a serious evaluation by the FIA though, I know it’s been a mess since Charlie unexpectedly died, but that’s pretty long ago by now, and it’s not been improved since.

      1. When Charlie was still around people also complained about inconsistent penalties. You can blame the racing director for deciding to use red flags or have standing restart, but blame for inconsistent penalties is on the stewards.

        1. Jonathan Parkin
          7th April 2023, 10:18

          Which is why we need to have just the one penalty and not three.

          When I started watching F1 there was just a 10 second stop go which was issued for mainly four things

          1) Jump starts
          2) Speeding in the pits
          3) Ignoring blue flags
          4) Causing an unavoidable collision

          These must be served within 3 laps. If it is too close to the end of the race, I.e. on Lap 52/53 at Monza for instance then the penalty instead is 25 seconds. Failure to serve results in a black flag

          You see how easy that is and how it compares to now

          1. 4) Causing an unavoidable collision

            I’m sure you meant ‘avoidable’!

          2. When you started watching F1 they also recovered cars under local yellows. That’s the biggest problem in F1 today.

  6. I’d much rather have a penalty for Sargeant and Gasly applied than the one for Sainz removed

  7. RandomMallard
    7th April 2023, 8:02

    I don’t see how this will work I’ll be honest. To even get a right to review admitted you need to have substantial new evidence, which the FIA have suggested before is quite a high standard, and I cannot tell what Ferrari are going to use to try and meet that bar.

  8. No chance to overturn he gains a advantage and he didn’t gave the position back.

  9. No chance, he would’ve gone out of the track if Alonso wasn’t there to stop his momentum. Sainz as a veteran has been doing rookie mistakes. In Bahrain, he also tried to overtake out of the pits into the corner and doing the same mistake, when he already had received a radio message that the car in front will be pitting a lap after.

  10. At the restart, Sainz was racing alongside Gasly, not Alonso, and both go in too fast. By the time they brake for the first corner, Gasly has to slam on the brakes, locking up, to avoid Alonso. Sainz goes far too deep and takes out Alonso who had been way ahead into the corner. Stewards 100% correct in holding Sainz fully responsible.

    The bit that was wrong wasn’t the penalty, it was ‘resetting’ the grid positions rather than allowing the race to continue to the first timing point.

    1. The bit that was wrong wasn’t the penalty, it was ‘resetting’ the grid positions rather than allowing the race to continue to the first timing point.

      Definitely a matter of discussion. This made me think: if F1 was so obsessively focussed on generating viral content (as some claim), I’m sure they would’ve done just this for Hulk to make the podium?

      1. I think they just got trigger-happy about stopping and starting the race. OK the Gasly-Ocon crash was heavy but it was to the side of the track and wasn’t impeding anyone else, they could have let the race run a bit more.

  11. Are we seeing the beginning of Fernando International Assistance? ; )

    1. In a word, yep. I doubt it’s a coincidence that he was perceived as the only driver capable of challenging Max/Red Bull, at least enough to generate a storyline, and we’ve now had two races where decisions have favoured him after he’s appealed on the radio from the car (which, of course, he is skilful at doing). In both cases, the decisions strike me as very generous to him. It’s not going to make any difference to the championship, though, and Aston Martin already seem to be fading anyhow.

  12. At last! But, too limited (perhaps by procedure). There are grounds to penalize Sainz, that’s totally true. You can debate whether it was necessary or not, and that’s why this bid will probably fail because the stewards will just say “we disagree, the penalty stands LOL”.

    So it would have been better to get a broader review, because the fact that the FIA-appointed stewards only penalized Sainz is laughable.

    All the more so because everyone knows why they didn’t penalize Gasly, too, which makes it even worse because they are not only failing to treat drivers equally, they’re also failing to treat each incident on its own merits, and what is perhaps worse still, they’re actively undermining the FIA process that is supposed to lead to bans for people who repeatedly break the rules.

    The stewards – Nish Shetty, Loïc Bacquelaine, Enrique Bernoldi, and Australian appointee Christopher McMahon – aren’t supposed to work around the rules, but to apply them. Equally.

  13. Scotty (@rockonscotty)
    7th April 2023, 17:30

    I don’t think the penalty is the issue but the consequence of that penalty. Having the penalty time based is what causes the ‘fairness’ issue. I would suggest that penalties be position based. This would be a 3 position penalty. The cars could be 2 seconds or 2 minutes behind, the consequence would be the same. If that causes headaches, make them points based. This would be 10 points from driver/team total. If points arnt available, it converts to a grid penalty. Thoughts?

    1. Yes, been thinking the same too, you wouldn’t have situations like silverstone 2021 (insignificant penalty) or here, too big penalty.

  14. This will be thrown out, there is no new evidence to be brought and the penalty was in line with past incidents.

  15. If Charlie Whiting was still on the job we would have had 4 safety cars, VSCs, or local yellow flags.

    Only the first red could be justified at all. This new affinity for red flags is not good. Casual viewers may like see carnage following a standing start but it injects too much variability for proper competition.

    I would have rather lost 15 laps under the safety car than waiting for the race to resume. With the reduction of the broadcast window from 4 hours to 3 hours including the podium ceremony we can afford using red flags even less than in the past. Race control need to get it together and follow a policy based on good reasoning rather than trying to inject controversy such as UAE 2021.

  16. While Sainz did cause a collision there was no impact on Alonso’s race as a result given the subsequent Red Flag and reset. While Sainz is at fault and deserves license penalty points for causing an incident, I think when assigning a time penalty there needs to be consideration of the damages caused along with the benefit to the infringing party (which in this case was nil on both counts). I feel in this case the 5 second penalty was not justified, especially given it was a lap 1 incident after a restart.

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