Carlos Sainz says he is “in disbelief” at the10-place grid penalty he was given for the Las Vegas Grand Prix as a result of exceeding power unit components — a situation caused by his car hitting a drain cover in FP1.
The Ferrari driver struck the loose drain at 200mph and suffered significant damage to the chassis as well as power unit components as the engine cut off as a result. After changing the chassis, Ferrari also had to change the internal combustion engine (ICE), energy store (ES) and control electronics (CE), with the energy store requiring a third of that component.
Drivers are limited to two energy stores per season so Ferrari lobbied the stewards for a reprieve due to the cause of the damage to it, but the request was refused based on the regulations.
“Having heard from (Ferrari), the director of the FIA Single Seater Department, having viewed video evidence and examined the team’s declaration sheet, the stewards determine that, notwithstanding the fact that the damage was caused by highly unusual external circumstances, Article 2.1 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations obliges all officials, including the stewards, to apply the regulations as they are written.
“Accordingly, the mandatory penalty specified under Article 28.3 of the Sporting Regulations must be applied.
“The stewards note that if they had the authority to grant a derogation in what they consider in this case to be mitigating, unusual and unfortunate circumstances, they would have done so, however the regulations do not allow such action.”
As a result, Sainz was given a grid drop of 10 positions for Saturday night’s grand prix. The Spaniard was at least able to compete in FP2 due to the delays that were encountered to allow for track repairs, posting second-fastest time to teammate Charles Leclerc, but that was scant consolation for him when told of the penalty.
“You can clearly see this weekend we are relatively competitive as I think that the track layout is suiting us a bit more compared to the last few, and we seem to be switching on the tires well over one lap,” Sainz said. “So I was quite excited and optimistic.
“Unfortunately, as the session finished the team communicated to me that I was taking a 10-place grid penalty, for something that I have no fault and the team has no fault. This has obviously completely changed my mindset and my opinion on how the weekend is going to go from now on. You can obviously imagine how disappointed and in disbelief with the situation I am, and you will not see me very happy this weekend.
“Yes, there will be opportunities (to overtake). But as I said, right now I’m just too disappointed with the outcome and I don’t want to talk too much about the future because what happened today for me is a very clear example of how this sport can be improved in so many ways. FIA, teams, rules that could clearly be applied as force majeure for me not to take a penalty, but somehow people always (find) some ways to make the situation worse for an individual and I think in this case it’s my turn to pay the price.”