Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Monaco, 2024

Sainz and Hulkenberg avoid penalties for impeding rivals

Formula 1

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Carlos Sainz Jnr and Nico Hulkenberg have been cleared of impeding rivals in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled Sainz “impacted” Alexander Albon’s lap when the Williams driver caught him at the Piscine section. However as Albon told them he was not sure Sainz had impeded him, they chose not to penalise the Ferrari driver.

“The driver of car 55 [Sainz] was informed by the team of the approach of car 23 [Albon],” the stewards noted. “The driver of car 55 attempted to move as quickly as he could off the racing line to give car 23 space at the exit of turn 16.

“However, given the tight nature of the chicane and the Monaco circuit, car 23 was impacted by car 55’s presence at the chicane.

“The driver of car 55 stated on hindsight that he could perhaps have gone off the track and thereby given car 23 more room but felt that he did not unnecessarily impede car 23 as he took the necessary steps on the track to give him space.

“The driver of car 23 was able to complete his push lap and although he may have lost [0.15 seconds] in terms of time and was therefore affected, he said it was, in his mind, ‘grey’ as to whether or not he was unnecessarily impeded by car 55.

“He did not think this was a clear case of impeding. He acknowledged that the part of the circuit was particularly difficult at it is a sequence of blind corners and that car 55 could not have seen car 23 approaching any sooner.”

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In Hulkenberg’s case, the stewards took into account radio problems which disrupted the communications between the teams and their drivers. They also ruled Esteban Ocon was not significantly delayed when he caught the Haas at Massenet.

“The team had attempted to warn car 27 [Hulkenberg] of the arrival of car 31 [Ocon] on a fast lap but the radio communication system was not working reliably and the driver of car 27 did not receive the messages. We heard the radio messages from the team to the driver but it appears that those messages did not go through to the car.

“The driver of car 31 confirmed that he too had issues with the communication system. We had similar reports of intermittent radio messages from another team today.

“The driver of car 31 acknowledged that, because the entry of turn three is blind, the driver of car 27 could not have known of his approach without the benefit of a radio warning. He also felt that, notwithstanding the fact that he caught car 27, he was not materially impacted during that lap by car 27 because car 27 picked up the pace at turn four.

“Given that the team had attempted to warn their driver appropriately of the arrival of car 31; in the light of the technical issues with the radio communications; and the fact that the driver of car 31 said that he was not materially impacted, we took no further action.”

The decision to clear Hulkenberg is moot, as he has been disqualified from the qualifying results due to a technical infringement. He will start from the pit lane while Sainz retains his third place on the grid.

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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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3 comments on “Sainz and Hulkenberg avoid penalties for impeding rivals”

  1. Good of Albon to be constructive/sensible/fair when many drivers would have thrown their toys out of the plan.

    Personally I think this was the right answer whatever Albon said, but it sounded like the stewards were ready to issue a penalty.

    1. If it was aston martin impeding the cars .. they would have got penalty for sure

  2. Fair enough for Albon to take that stance; goes some way to making up for his shenanigans in 2022 here in the race.

    That said, it shouldn’t really be that important whether or not the driver can see the car behind him. That’s also a job for the team, and something that Ferrari can improve on. They had numerous problems with this last season as well.

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