Sainz blames “rival teams pushing for me to get a penalty” after losing front row start

Formula 1

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Carlos Sainz Jnr believes pressure from rival teams led to his grid penalty for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Ferrari asked the stewards not to penalise Sainz after they exceeded his maximum number of power unit parts while repairing his car on Thursday. The repairs were necessary after Sainz struck a water valve cover which had worked loose on the Strip.

The stewards turned down Ferrari’s request, saying they do not have the power to derogate the regulations. However Sainz believes they could have done so had rival teams not applied pressure to ensure a penalty would be given.

Sainz said he should not have been penalised because the fault for his crash lay with the circuit operators.

“There was clearly a safety issue at the track,” he said. “That issue destroyed my car. My mechanics have to invest five hours in putting together a completely new car.

“On top of that we get a 10-place grid penalty for something that we have nothing to do for. I’m just simply disappointed. At the same time, I’m not surprised, because there’s been many cases this year that I think the sport has proven that it can do things a lot better.

“I’m surprised that the governing body doesn’t have the power to, in cases of force majeure, to overrule a bit in this kind of situation where it’s so clear that it’s something that is completely out of the team’s control, completely out of the driver’s control.

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“The rules, the governing body, the teams – I don’t know, I expected more from the sport in this situation.

“For sure there will be rival teams pushing for me to get a penalty which surprises me in a way. In another [way], I’ve been in the sport for too long to understand that this business… there’s too much money involved in the finishing position in the constructors’ or whatever for a team not to threaten to apply for a penalty for me.

“At the same time, as I said, I’m not surprised. I’m extremely disappointed and honestly I’m very just upset with the whole situation, with the sport, honestly. Upset, I think is the right word and in a bad mood because I just expected more from the sport in this case.”

Max Verstappen also believes Ferrari’s rivals will have applied pressure to ensure Sainz did not avoid a penalty.

“The rules have to change for that,” said the Red Bull driver, who moved up from third on the grid to second as a result of Sainz’s penalty. “It’s the same if you get taken out and you have a big accident, you can lose parts of engine, energy store all these kinds of things. So, first of all that needs to change that these things can be taken into consideration that if you can take a free penalty or not, it will not be counted.

“Besides that, I think the teams should not be allowed to have a say in these kinds of things, because for sure they’re going to vote against that. I mean, personally, I do think it’s very harsh on Carlos, but in this political environment that we are in, of course every team thinks about themselves and they of course going to say no, he has to take the penalty.”

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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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21 comments on “Sainz blames “rival teams pushing for me to get a penalty” after losing front row start”

  1. There really is a lack of common sense in the stewarding office. Anyways, Red bull and Ferrari should take the podiums. If Sainz plays his race rhythm right, he might be back up to second. He has managed to keep his tires better, on average than his teammate this year, so with some easy DRS passes, hes not that far away perhaps. Williams look to play the spoilers for everyone who didn’t make it in to Q3.

    1. Williams will be hardly able to keep that game up for the whole race… after mid race they are probably going backwards

  2. Unless they can point to a specific rule that says the stewards can waive a penalty for exceeding the number of parts across the season (this is an important part), this talk of other teams somehow forcing the penalty on the stewards is – unfortunately – just conspiratorial thinking on Sainz’ part.

    Sure, Mercedes likes that Sainz has to start behind Hamilton. But even Wolff and his ‘friends’ at the FIA only have so much influence. The rules clearly state that exceeding the number of parts “will” lead to a grid drop. No ifs or buts.

    1. Thank you for speaking truth

    2. As mentioned by someone in the comments on the other article, the ISC says the stewards have the right to suspend any penalty (if you want me to quote it again, I’ll look it up, but I think it was in section 11). Unless you can point to a specific rule which overrides this, they absolutely have the power to do so.

      1. The FIA Code gives stewards the authority, under 11.9.3.g to ‘decide to suspend any penalty in accordance with Article 12.2.3’ (which article details the way penalties are given).

        The problem with this is the wording of the F1 regulations. In the case of what they call incidents (article 54 of the F1 Sporting Regulations), which constantly emphasise that incidents ‘may be reported’, or that the stewards ‘may investigate’, or ‘may impose’ a penalty, etc. the part about the RNCs are very clear, and state that ‘a grid penalty will be imposed’.

        Could they claim authority under the Code to suspend such a very clear penalty? Maaaaaaybe. I guess. Somehow. But this is probably a can of worms that they want to stay miles away from.

        1. Could they claim authority under the Code to suspend such a very clear penalty?

          With the precedent of other teams having been penalised for replacements that came about because of track faults exactly like this (drain covers) ???
          I think not.

          What makes Ferrari so special that they don’t get a penalty where others did?
          Did they lobby the stewards to allow those teams to have special treatment?

          1. What makes this special is that on the other occasions, it was not blatantly obvious that the track inspection was wrongly indicated as passed. Thus the blame was not with the FIA, thus the FIA had authority to make a call on the matter.

        2. It says they have the power to suspend any penalty, so I’d say they do. Nothing in the ISC or Sporting Regulations countermands that power that I’ve seen. The other penalties wouldn’t need this power of they say “may be given”.

        3. They can, otherwise the stewards under that same interpretation have no authority to judge the matter at all (thus no authority to deliver any penalty in the first place).

    3. This wasn’t a racing incident. This was track not being ready for racing. They could work from this angle. It’s as if organizers destroyed Sainz’s car. If the fault garage roof fell on the car or organizer’s delivery truck backed into F1 car – would you argue it’s tough luck, Ferrari must cover it? This isn’t a question to you, just suggestion to work from this angle.

  3. FIA should definitely alter the rules a bit by adding a clause for force majeure situations, although the one team that vetoed the exemption is pretty easy to figure out.

    1. It was the team’s decision to use new parts instead of older ones.
      Allowing more parts when teams can blame a third party (e.g. crash with another team) will open pandora’s box.

      1. It shouldn’t apply for crashes with other cars, that’s just a normal part of motor racing. The track falling apart isn’t.

      2. The team had no alternative apart from skipping the rest of the weekend – which would itself have been against regulations.

  4. Why would someone like Pierre who had his whole weekend ruined by Carlos in Canada push for him not getting a penalty ?

  5. There are always things beyond ones control. One can catch some illness, something can get lost or destroyed on shipment, or some hazard on track can ruin something. Also some untimely red flag can damage ones chances, caused for whatever reason.

    Thats a common risk everyone is taking. I dont see a reason to not apply the rules or call for force majeure. This would end up in some endless spiral, with the need to eventually draw a line at some point.

    Better to just call it everyones common risk, and just pity those who got unfortunately striked.

  6. The regulations – although they are bad – have to be obeyed. But they need to fix that for the future. I wonder if Ferrari could sue the organizers for causing the damage and/or tampering with the outcome of a sports event in a way.

    1. I wonder if Ferrari could sue the organizers for causing the damage and/or tampering with the outcome of a sports event in a way.

      That seems a fair outcome. I believe other teams suffering the same problem in the past have requested compensation.

      Of course, if people want to alter the regulations to allow for an exception in this kind of case for the future, entirely different story.

    2. The regulations state that the stewards had the power to suspend this. Given the FIA’s involvement in this issue, the case for this was quite compelling.

  7. It seems like F1 is actually daring new fans to follow the sport. Giving a penalty for when a manhole cover shoots out and blows a hole in your battery is absolutely ridiculous to anyone new coming to the sport, and isn’t something that should be tolerated. With the cost cap, the damage itself is more than enough of a penalty to the team. Putting a driver from possibly the most popular team on the grid back ten places because of some shoddy Las Vegas contractor’s dangerously poor work is skull-crushingly idiotic. Suppose it had killed a driver, which was entirely possible. Tough luck? “Sorry, our hands are tied by the regulations” is cowardly and foolish, and will cost the sport in the long run. There’s been a steady erosion of trust in F1’s governing bodies, and this will lead to a landslide in that trust.

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