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Formula 1

Sainz gets grid drop for incident Gasly felt was ban-worthy

by Matt Beer, Edd Straw
5 min read

Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz will be demoted three places on the Canadian Grand Prix grid for impeding Pierre Gasly during Montreal qualifying.

Sainz, who had qualified eighth, had earlier escaped punishment after the stewards looked into whether he had blocked Alex Albon in two final-practice incidents.

But the officials felt a Q1 near-miss at the final chicane that enraged Gasly and contributed to him only qualifying 17th was worthy of a sanction.

Gasly immediately argued over team radio that Sainz deserved a ban for his driving.

“I just think it’s completely unacceptable to be driving the way Carlos did,” he added after the session. “Just as simple as that. Coming up at 300km/h [186mph], he’s sitting at 30km/h [17mph] at the last chicane, just focusing on his own lap.

“You’re not alone on the racetrack.

“First of all I couldn’t even close the lap which would have put us in the top six quite easily. And second of all it was extremely dangerous and unnecessary. Just absolutely gutted.”

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

Asked by The Race if he was expecting a significant penalty for Sainz, Gasly replied: “Definitely but it’s not even what I care about because the damage has been done.

“I’m sitting here in P17 when we have the car and the pace to be in the top 10, eight or even top six in these conditions.

“Whatever they decide is going to damage him but it’s not going to give us back the qualifying we should have had.”

Gasly himself was given a double grid penalty in Spain a fortnight ago for impeding eventual front row duo Max Verstappen and Sainz, but argued Sainz’s actions in Canada were far worse.

“I’m absolutely gutted and obviously I was in the opposite situation the other day but the guys finished P1 and P2 and it didn’t impact their Sunday,” he said.

“Now I’m sitting here in P17, it obviously ruined my qualifying. It impacts my race a lot so it’s just not acceptable.

“Looking at the data it would have easily put us in P6. Even if they blocked me two or three tenths, it doesn’t matter, at least I can finish my lap and go through easily.

“This was just…you can’t put your car in the worst possible place. At the speed I’m coming just putting himself in a very dangerous position and also myself. Just unnecessary.”

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

Prior to the stewards’ hearing, Sainz had claimed the officials were being influenced by the volume of drivers’ radio complaints rather than what was actually happening on track.

“I got impeded seven times today and I am not shouting on the radio in Turn 13,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“Other drivers use the radio more than others. Today I was getting impeded many, many times.

“Let’s see what they do because some incidents are under investigation, some others are not. It depends how much you shout on the radio and how much you complain.”

Sainz’s reference to being impeded too and his defence to the stewards that he was “surprised that the driver of car 22 overtook him into Turn 13 and as a result he accelerated late to start his fast lap” relate to Logan Sargeant’s Williams and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri, which were also preparing for their final laps on the same straight at the time.

Sainz is told over team radio “don’t back off, don’t back off” earlier on the straight but then does so as he gains on the Williams, meaning Tsunoda overtakes him into the chicane. He slows further as a result then begins to speed up as Gasly gets alongside him. Further warnings of cars behind are being given over the radio at that moment but the closing speed and Sainz’s slowing mean they appear to come too late.

Ironically the stewards’ report about the Albon incidents that Sainz was not penalised for after practice three suggested both of them had argued that drivers should not back off into that chicane and should instead make sure any slowing to build space ahead is done before the preceding hairpin.

“Both drivers raised with the stewards the issue of cars backing up at Turn 13,” said the report.

“They strongly suggested that it would be better, in the wet, for any backing up to occur at Turn 10 where they believe there was better visibility.”

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

In the Albon case, the stewards felt Sainz had done enough to try to avoid impeding and that Ferrari had kept him adequately informed.

“The weather conditions resulted in significant visibility problems for the drivers especially on the straight between Turns 12 and 13,” said their report.

“The team had previously been warned by race control about a similar incident the prior lap at the same location and we noted that communications between the team and driver were satisfactory.

“The driver of car 55 [Sainz] stated he knew of the approach of car 23 [Albon] but had to back off significantly because of the presence in front of him of car 1 [Verstappen].

“The wording of article 35.7 includes the words ‘unnecessarily impedes another driver’. In this case both parties and the stewards believe that this was not a case of unnecessarily impeding and that the driver of car 55 acted in the manner he did in order to, in his view, avoid the car in front and the approaching car from behind.”

But when it came to the qualifying incident with Gasly, the stewards concluded that “although the overtaking move by car 22 took the driver of car 55 by surprise, it is our determination that the driver of car 55 was predominantly to blame and unnecessarily impeded car 10”.

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