‘Silly’, ‘harsh’, ‘use common sense’: Sainz’s rivals say his penalty is wrong

Formula 1

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Several of Carlos Sainz Jnr’s rivals have spoken out against the 10-place penalty which cost him a place on the front row of the grid for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Sainz’s car was badly damaged when he struck a loose water valve cover during the first practice session at the new Las Vegas Strip Circuit. Among the parts Ferrari had to replace was his energy store, and as they had no option other than to fit a new one, he exceeded the maximum number he was allowed to use this year, and received an automatic 10-place grid penalty.

Ferrari asked for an exemption from the penalty, but the stewards told them they did not have the power to grant one. Sainz went on to qualify second on the grid but will line up 12th as a result of his penalty.

Several of his rivals spoke out against the decision, including Fernando Alonso, who was one of the drivers to gain a place as a result of Sainz’s penalty. “It’s a little bit harsh,” said the Aston Martin driver.

Nico Hulkenberg said it was a “super unfortunate” situation and a “bad” outcome. “The rules, that loophole, it’s just silly that he loses a power unit and everything if it’s not the team’s or the driver’s fault.

“I think that needs to be cleaned up, for sure.”

Daniel Ricciardo likened the decision to his situation in Brazil, where he and rival Oscar Piastri had to restart the race a lap down, with no opportunity to rejoin the lead lap, as happens during Safety Car periods.

“It’s a bit like Brazil,” said the AlphaTauri driver. “They stick to the rulebook for Oscar and I, but it’s like, you know, come on. That one you would think they would take some common sense.

“So no, I don’t agree with that one, not at all.”

Max Verstappen, who inherited Sainz’s place on the front row of the grid, also criticised the rule. But despite the drivers’ concerns it was not discussed during their regular meeting at the track.

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Author information

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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14 comments on “‘Silly’, ‘harsh’, ‘use common sense’: Sainz’s rivals say his penalty is wrong”

  1. So is the rumour that there was gonna be special dispensation for Sainz until one team objected, an unsubstantiated lie?

    1. And how did you come to that conclusion from this article? The stewards said that all teams would say ok to it and one team didn’t ok it.

    2. I don’t see any quotes from Mercedes drivers (the team hoping to defend 2nd in the championship from Ferrari).

    3. Ferrari claimed it was because their ‘rivals’ objected. Which team(s) was not mentioned, although the Mercedes drivers are conspicuously absent in their comments, and have the most to lose from a strong Ferrari showing.

  2. The obvious thing, again, is that FIA management are living in the past. I’d estimate at least by 40 years.
    Whether it be administrative penalties or real safety issue, they just look at an immediate issue and resolve just that. They very rarely attempt to look at periphery issues and ALL the benefits and drawbacks that arise.

    The hazardous failure of street circuit ‘furniture’ is not a new one off event. There seem to be incidents every couple of years. SO why hasn’t FIA properly addressed it with inspection & testing or other methods to decrease the probability. Other one off serious hazards, such as lost wheels, were zealously pursued with many inadequate solutions.

    1. Yeah. When I think of F1, I think of way too little safety…

      This is simply an unfair rule in terms of competition and budget. Nothing more.

      1. all they have to do is restrict his new power unit to what ever life the old one had left on it. Its not his fault or the teams for that manhole, this is clearly a case of punishing the victim, Ferrari should have fought more, and the FIA should have people who can think for themselves.

  3. There have been a number of track failures, and specifically drain cover incidents, over a number of years.

    I don’t recall any team stepping forward to push the idea that the affected team should be given special dispensation for any of the previous incidences. Why is it suddenly such a bad thing to apply the rules as written?

    Schedule a discussion at the end of the season to, possibly, alter the procedures and rules.

    1. Did those things ever happen whereby the team that were affected by the incident were then handed a penalty for fixing their car and having to replace parts?

      1. A number of times likely even it didn’t result in an immediate penalty, but a shortage later in the season. But this seemed so egregious, especially in the budget cap era.

      2. However, I agree, I don’t like the rule being applied in this manner even if it has happened before.

  4. I’m absolutely convinced this is a “any news is good news” play. It’s something to talk about, something that makes headlines and generates engagement even at the expense of one competitors competitiveness. There are a number of regulations in both spirit and specifics that the stewards could rely on to not hand out this penalty… But that wouldn’t generate anywhere near the interest. It also gives Sainz a story arc for the race.

    The FIA aren’t afraid to be the bad guys for the sake of a good story. It’s the F1-WWE argument essentially.

    1. The fans were talking about it before the drivers or the media. So, even as someone who also hates this event, track, etc., I find the idea that drivers were fed this line as a distraction is pretty laughable. Particularly since it circles back to a problem with the track and the problem that began the entire debacle anyway.

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