Ferrari and driver Carlos Sainz Jnr have both received minor punishments following an incident between the driver and Oscar Piastri during qualifying at Zandvoort.
Piastri had set the fastest time in Q1 with just under six minutes remaining and had backed off on a cool-down lap when he rounded Tarzan, the first corner. At the same time, Sainz was exiting the pit lane to begin a new run, directly behind Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas.
The Ferrari driver was told by his race engineer Riccardo Adami to “watch the white line” at pit exit. Of the McLaren driver approaching, Adami said only: “Piastri behind, I don’t know what he’s doing” as Sainz joined the circuit.
Piastri drew alongside Sainz as the Ferrari joined the track, drifted left and squeezed the McLaren onto the grass on the approach to turn three.
“Sainz just completely ran me onto the grass,” Piastri reported to his team. “It would’ve been a crash if I didn’t avoid him there.”
Speaking after qualifying, Sainz said he did not believe the incident was particularly egregious.
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“I basically left the pit lane and they didn’t tell me he was coming,” Sainz explained. “At the same time I think he was on an in-lap, so I don’t think it was too much of an issue.
“Also with the spray you cannot see in the mirror, so you are basically blind and if they don’t tell you on the radio, it’s very, very difficult to see anything. Hopefully it didn’t affect his quali. I think he went into Q2 and then into Q3 and normally the stewards are a bit more lenient when that happens, so let’s see.”
After investigating, the Dutch Grand Prix stewards determined that Ferrari had committed an offence but chose not to penalised Sainz with a grid penalty.
“In the opinion of the stewards this was a ‘potentially dangerous’ manoeuvre, and a crash was only avoided by the actions of Piastri,” the stewards explained.
“The stewards listened to the radio of Bottas, who was the car that exited the pits immediately ahead of Sainz, and Bottas was given ample warning of Piastri approaching on the track. By comparison, Sainz was warned not to cross the white line at the exit of the pits, and was not warned about Piastri until he was already alongside.
“Sainz explained that he had briefly caught sight of Piastri as he was rounding turn one at the pit exit and gauged that Piastri was on a slow lap. From then on he did not see Piastri because of the relative angle of the cars. He also explained that he was trying to get to the drying line as quickly as possible.
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“While the stewards understand this explanation, in their opinion, Sainz’s rapid move to the line, while unable to see a car that he knew was in the area created a ‘potentially dangerous’ situation. The stewards also felt that the team contributed to this situation and therefore issue a team fine.”
Sainz received his first driving reprimand of the 2023 season as a result of the incident. It is not the first time that Ferrari have been fined for failing to correctly inform Sainz about cars behind him during sessions. During last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, the team were fined €25,000 (£21,452) by the FIA stewards after giving Sainz “grossly incorrect messages” about Lance Stroll in practice, resulting in Sainz impeding the Aston Martin driver.
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella insisted his team never doubted that Sainz – a former McLaren driver – was ever intending to obstruct their driver.
“We like Carlos,” Stella said. “We know he’s a very fair, good person. “Certainly if there was a situation, it was not intentional. I guess the stewards will take that into account, but in terms of outcome I just take what they decide.”
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2023 Dutch Grand Prix
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