Sainz maintains penalty was “disproportionate” and deserved reviewing

2023 F1 season

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Ferrari has accepted the stewards’ decision not to review Carlos Sainz Jnr’s penalty for causing a collision during the Australian Grand Prix.

However the team says it wants to widen talks between the FIA, Formula 1 and its rivals over the standards of policing in the championship. And Sainz made his dissatisfaction with the decision clear, saying it “should have been reviewed” and calling his penalty “disproportionate”.

Sainz was given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Fernando Alonso after the final standing restart at the last round in Melbourne. The team and driver were unhappy the stewards ruled on the incident without first hearing from Sainz.

Two other incidents happened around the same time. One, which led to Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries’ retirements from the race, was not investigated by the stewards.

Another, which involved the Alpine drivers, was investigated. On that occasion the stewards chose to speak to the drivers first before deciding to take no action.

Ferrari submitted views from Sainz and other drivers as part of its bid to force a review of the stewards’ decision. However their request was turned down as the stewards ruled this and other evidence submitted by Ferrari was not new, significant and relevant.

The team accepted the verdict. “We acknowledge the FIA decision not to grant us a right of review in relation to the penalty imposed on Carlos Sainz at the 2023 Australian Grand Prix,” it said in a statement. “We are naturally disappointed, and felt that we had provided sufficient significant new elements for the FIA to re-examine the decision especially in the context of the particular conditions and multiple incidents that occurred during the final restart.

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“We are however respectful of the process and of the FIA decision.”

However the team believes there is scope for further improvement in decision-making in F1. “We are now looking forward to entering broader discussions with the FIA, F1, and all the teams, with the aim of further improving the policing of our sport, in order to ensure the highest level of fairness and consistency that our sport deserves,” it added.

Sainz said he was “very disappointed that the FIA did not grant us a right to review” the penalty and said his opinion of it had not changed.

“Two weeks later, I still think the penalty is too disproportionate and I believe it should have at least been reviewed on the basis of the evidence and reasoning we have presented,” he said on social media.

“We have to continue working together to improve certain things for the future. The consistency and decision making process has been a hot topic for many seasons now and we need to be clearer for the sake of our sport.”

“What happened in Australia is now in the past and I am 100% focused on the next race in Baku,” he added.

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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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19 comments on “Sainz maintains penalty was “disproportionate” and deserved reviewing”

  1. I have always been saying this. It is time to change the extent of any penalty to be basis the consequences of the offence rather than the nature of the offence itself.

    So many times it happens that the same penalty is given on a track with tarmac runoffs and a track with gravel runoffs with widely differing consequences of the same offence. Penalties can’t be same all the time if the consequences of the action are different

    If Alonso didn’t suffer anything due to this offence, the penalty should also be in sync with the offence.

    1. Penalties can’t be same all the time if the consequences of the action are different

      But what you are arguing for is for punishments to be based on what happens to the ‘victim’ (inclusive of other external compounding factors) – and not what the ‘offender’ actually did to breach the regulations.

      If Alonso didn’t suffer anything due to this offence, the penalty should also be in sync with the offence.

      Had the race lasted 10 seconds longer before the red flag, he would have suffered greatly.
      Regardless, the red flag’s timing doesn’t alter what Sainz actually did wrong (which is wrong all the time).

      Consequences are usually beyond the control of the offender, after all. Offending actions, on the other hand…
      It simply makes no sense to punish the consequence.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        19th April 2023, 12:18

        True but that’s how life generally works… If you drink 8 cans of beer, go for a drive, skid off the road and wrap your car around a tree, you’ll get done for drink driving. Drive 8 cans of beer, go for a drive, skid off the road and crash into a group of children and you’re going to get a significantly different punishment.

        1. But that’s life, not sport. In most sports (that I’m aware of), actions are punished, not consequences.

          In football, for instance, a hand ball gains the same punishment whether it was the lightest finger touch which barely altered the path of the ball or if it stopped the ball dead and prevented it reaching a striker. An illegal tackle is punished the same whether it caused a player to fake falling over or broke their leg.

          To be fair, though, we already have punishments based on consequences. A driver making a dangerous move is only punished if he causes a collision or forces another driver off track. If the other driver, whether by skill or luck, manages to avoid the collision and stay on track the offender isn’t generally punished.

      2. For a real life example, if you take a pistol and shoot someone at the leg, case 1) the person bleeds to death, in this case it’s murder, case 2) the ambulance arrives soon enough and saves him, in this case it’s attempted murder: the action is the same, the crime is different and with it the punishment; f1 should do that too.

        1. Again, that’s real life, not sport.

          Now, F1 is pretty much the only sport I’m into, but I don’t know of any sport which punishes consequences rather than actions. Can anyone give any examples?

    2. That’s a real slippery slope you’d be walking on. That would mean it would be perfectly fine for a driver to skip the braking if nobody gets hurt. And let’s say you have such an incident with both drivers able to continue. If the driver whose car was hit needs to retire 20 laps later, how will you determine that has nothing to do with the earlier incident?

    3. Problem is if you let this go then in normal races you can use this to not get penaulized. It’s very simple he gains a advance by removing his oppenent due causing a collision (that things were reversed doesn’t matter) that is what they checked and Sainz got caught and deservely penaulized.

      The rest between teammates they took each other out damage is for the team. The only thing is that Logan should get a griddrop for the next race as he couldn’t be penaulized in the race as he was out. But still that shouldn’t matter for the sause of Sainz.

  2. Sure, have a talk. Stewarding, race control it IS a mess. But this certainly was not the greatest mistake or issue we saw in the last months, or even years!

    Stewarding needs to be more consistent and predictable. They need to stop finding BS reasons to avoid giving drivers points on their licence if that would mean a ban (or change the system if they feel it gives points in the wrong way, although the FIA already made some changes).

    And they need to have a look at why they suddenly start handing out penalties for being to the side of the startbox etc. And we still haven’t reached wholly clear view on the track limits, it is unclear why and how is decided about what to even investigate and red flags / SC / VSC car decisions aren’t transparent either.

    1. Well said @bascb, though as you imply, it’s not clear at all that we will see clear improvements from such a talk, there are surely things that can be done a whole lot better. If this is the incident that gets Ferrari to understand that, sure why not :)

    2. @bascb
      I agree with you on everything except the track limits because they’ve been clear since Wittich & Freitas arrived.

  3. Talk about a Ferrari/Sainz sense of entitlement. They’re treating it as one of the most critical and important stewarding decisions that FIA has had to make over recent years – whether Carlos Sainz won 4th place in the third race of the season or deserved a penalty for crashing into another car and taking it out of the race. It’s ridiculous. Just accept the penalty and stop moaning Carlos. It’s motor racing, drivers luck out. Others like Alonso luck in. If they’d waited until a timing point on the first lap before calling the red flag, perfectly possible and as they should have done, the order of the drivers would have been completely different. Racing needs a sense of jeopardy. In this case Sainz made bad driving decisions and crashed into Alonso. A fact. If it feels ‘unlucky’ that the penalty received (and 5 seconds for potentially sending Alonso to the back of the grid or even out of the race seems slight) then in the big scheme of things, so what?

  4. Coventry Climax
    18th April 2023, 14:25

    Talk all you like, it won’t change a thing, as the FIA wants to have a means of influencing things. One of those things being the standings – to keep the championship ‘interesting’ and the show ‘alive’, and I’m sure Liberty have their fingers in this as well. They’re no longer interested in fairness, safety or development other than where harvesting money is concerned.
    Fine with me, I don’t really care that much anymore, after following F1 for some 50 years now.
    But I wonder how long it’ll take before drivers start looking elsewhere, where they’ll compete in a sports primarily, instead of in a fake jury show.

    1. F1 drivers prove consistently that they are after the money at least as much as everyone else involved in F1 is.
      The drivers who do make ‘sport’ a higher priority don’t even try to enter F1. They know F1 isn’t a sporting contest for drivers.

  5. Sainz just needs to get a few more penalty points, then the FIA won’t penalize him again.

    1. True! That’s a clever tactic, just make some mistakes, get 11 penalty points, then you can crash head on into opponents, take them out of the race, do whatever you want with no penalties for several months, until the first points expire.

  6. We are however respectful of the process and of the FIA decision.

    Yeah, yeah, and I’ve got pixies camping under the conifer at the end of the garden. Because saying this:

    We are now looking forward to entering broader discussions with the FIA, F1, and all the teams, with the aim of further improving the policing of our sport, in order to ensure the highest level of fairness and consistency that our sport deserves

    totally supports the idea that you respect the process and the decision, NOT.

    I totally agree that others should have been punished, although one is young and lacking judgement and therefore the penalty (grid drop that wouldn’t matter a lot) should mark the understanding of this. A grid penalty and points should sort the second.
    The other, well, he needs a comfy seat to watch a race and clear his head anyway.

    The biggest problem is people arguing that the stewards should consider the consequences as well as the action, and then arguing the opposite when they are on the bad end of things.

  7. From what i gather most in the paddock (Including Alonso) are of the opinion that the penalty was the wrong decision given the circumstances.

    Most are of the view that if any of the incidents was worthy of a penalty it was Logan Sargeant as he did literally just lock up in a straight line and run into the back of someone.

    There is also the point of view that Gasly had the most avoidable incident as he didn’t look in his right side mirror before moving over and had he done so the accident that was the biggest that took place on that restart wouldn’t have happened.

    I also gather that most (If not all) of the drivers are in agreement that both red flags were unnecessary and that the final restart shouldn’t have been a standing one given the circumstances in terms of how little grip there was offline & how difficult it was to get sufficient temperature into brakes & tires. The overwhelming opinion seems to be that a mess on that restart was basically inevitable and that no amount of taking it easier would have helped to avoid it as going slower with these tires just ends up with you having even less grip.

    1. I’m not sure if I have misunderstood the rules, but I’m not sure a standing start was possible.

      If I remember the rules correctly, the out lap to the grid for a standing start would have reduced race distance by one lap (effectively counted as a lap), therefore the final lap would already have been completed before there restart.

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