Formula 1

Ferrari’s request to review Sainz’s Australia penalty dismissed

by Jack Cozens
3 min read

Ferrari’s petition for a review of the penalty given to Carlos Sainz at the Australian Grand Prix has been dismissed by the Formula 1 stewards from that race.

The F1 team was given the chance to make its case for the investigation to be reopened via a virtual hearing that took place on Tuesday.

This followed its submission of a petition to review the decision to award Sainz a five-second penalty for hitting Fernando Alonso at the final standing restart – a penalty that dropped him out of the points – to determine “whether or not a significant and relevant new element exists [Article 14.3 of the code] in relation to the decision/incident”.

The hearing included evidence from Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur, racing director Laurent Mekies and Sainz, while the three “elements” it felt qualified as new significant evidence were the car’s telemetry, Sainz’s witness statement and the statements – in this case post-race interviews – of other drivers including Alonso.

However, the stewards rejected all three of these claims.

In dismissing the case, the stewards summarised there was no such “significant and relevant new element which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned”.

Ferrari’s case appeared to cite a previously successful case of a team seeking a right of review – made by Force India after the Canadian GP in 2014 – as a “precedent for the proposition” that a driver’s testimony and telemetry would “amount to a significant and relevant new element”.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Race Day Montreal, Canada

That related to a five-place grid penalty awarded to Sergio Perez for his collision with Felipe Massa while defending fourth place on the final lap of that race in Montreal.

But the stewards deemed that the “factual circumstances” between the Ferrari petition and Force India’s case were “quite different” – not least because Perez had not been been able to make his case when the penalty was first awarded as he had been taken to hospital following the collision.

The Australian GP stewards said the distinguishing feature between that and Ferrari’s claim was that they had also made their decision in-race.

“We deemed it unnecessary for us to hear from SAI [Sainz] or hear from any other driver to decide that he was wholly to blame for the collision,” read part of their statement.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Australian Grand Prix Race Day Melbourne, Australia

They said this was a “decision that we, and other stewards panels, routinely take and are encouraged to take, when the cause of the collision is clear and there is a need for time penalties to be issued as quickly as possible”.

While Force India’s request for a review was successful on that occasion, in any case the penalty was upheld following a hearing at the Austrian GP a fortnight later.

In a statement released on social media, Ferrari said it acknowledged the decision not to grant a review but was “naturally disappointed” because it felt it had offered “sufficient significant new elements” for the penalty to be re-examined.

It said it felt this “especially in the context of the particular conditions and multiple incidents that occurred during the final restart” in Australia.

“We are however respectful of the process and of the FIA decision,” it added.

In confirming Ferrari had submitted the petition, Vasseur said he hoped to have an “open discussion” with the stewards to understand why Sainz was penalised at the time and not given a hearing after the race.

That action was in contrast to the investigation into the clash between Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly – which took place seconds after Sainz and Alonso’s collision and subsequently went unpunished – while another restart clash that involved Logan Sargeant rear-ending Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri went without investigation altogether.

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