Ferrari baffled by Sainz decision after Alonso rulings
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 5th April, 2023 - 12:19am
Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has been left baffled by the decision-making of the Australian Grand Prix stewards after a penalty that knocked Carlos Sainz out of the points.
Lining up fourth for the second restart of the day at Melbourne’s Albert Park after Kevin Magnussen had clouted his Haas into a wall at Turn 2 on lap 54, Sainz was in the hunt for a potential podium.
But on the run down into Turn 1, and with Sainz taking the apex of the corner, he clipped the right-rear tyre of fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, sending the two-time F1 champion into a spin.
During the red-flag period, the stewards handed Sainz a five-second time penalty for causing a collision, prompting a furious reaction from the 28-year-old as he sat in his car in the pit lane waiting to head back onto the track for the third restart.
Aware of the formation lap procession to the chequered flag for the final lap, and the fact he would drop out of the top 10, Sainz said: “No, it cannot be. Do I deserve to be out of the points? No. It’s unacceptable.
“They (the stewards) need to wait until the race has finished and discuss with me. No, please, please, please, please ask them to wait and discuss with me.
“Clearly the penalty is not deserved. It’s too severe.”
Naturally, supporting his driver, Vasseur said: “At least the stewards could have listened to them and to have had a look at the data.
“It’s an incident on track, and there are always two cars in the incident, and you have two ways of seeing the incident.
“Coming from Ferrari, being the team principal of Carlos, my position is not the same as some other guys in the paddock.
“But I think in this kind of situation, we could take five minutes to discuss and have a look at the data.”
Leclerc Sainz incidents “not completely opposite”
Vasseur, speaking to UK television station Channel 4, then referenced what had unfolded with Alonso during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Alonso was punished for a grid box infraction at the start of the race in Jeddah, serving a five-second time penalty at his first pit stop.
It was not until shortly before the end of the race, however, that the stewards dished out an additional 10-second penalty for what they perceived was a further misdemeanour during that stop.
A further three hours after the race had finished, they overturned their decision on the basis of mitigating circumstances coming to light.
“(In Saudi) They took 30 laps to decide if Alonso was in the box or not, and this (the Sainz incident) took five seconds,” added Vasseur.
“Then we changed the regulation two times in 10 minutes about the pit stop for Alonso. We could have done the same (in Melbourne), at least to discuss.”
With the penalty, Sainz finished last and 12th of the cars to cross the line, ensuring Ferrari failed to score a point after Charles Leclerc was involved in a lap-one tussle with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
That was dismissed as a racing incident by the stewards, yet highlighting the lack of inconsistency, Vasseur added: “He (Leclerc) was side by side with Lance, and it’s what happens on lap one sometimes.
“I don’t want to say it was quite similar to the other one but if you have a look, it’s not completely opposite.”
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