Furious over his 10-place grid penalty at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Bruno Famin has refuted Derek Warwick’s implication that other teams prevented the stewards from giving Carlos Sainz a free pass.
Sainz and Ferrari were furious when the Spaniard’s car suffered extensive damage when the concrete surrounding a water valve cover eroded as the cars drove over it in the opening practice hour at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
That meant as Sainz drove over the cover after Esteban Ocon, it came loose and clattered into the underfloor of his SF-23.
Did other teams have a say in Carlos Sainz’s Las Vegas penalty?
Not only was the car’s floor shattered and his seat broken, his SF-23 required several new engine compotents including a new energy store.
As that was outside of his pool for the season, the driver was slapped with a 10-place grid penalty.
Sainz and his team boss Fred Vasseur were furious that he was paying the price for something he was not responsible for but the stewards said their hands were tied.
“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,” they said.
“Accordingly, the mandatory penalty specified under Article 28.3 of the Sporting Regulations must be applied.”
But according to Warwick, who was one of the stewards on the night, the stewards themselves weren’t happy with the decision.
“The penalty we had to give Sainz in Vegas, it felt wrong, it was wrong, we worked very hard for it not to happen but they’re the rules,” he told Reuters.
This was in line with suggestions one team, said to be Mercedes, had blocked a Sainz penalty reprieve.
Famin, though, says that was never on the cards.
“I think it’s the stewards’ decision and it’s not because the other teams said ‘XYZ’,” Famin said.
“I think it’s very unfortunate for Carlos but I don’t – frankly speaking – I don’t see what other choice FIA stewards had in that case.
“It happened that you are taken in a crash, you have nothing to do with the crash or somebody push you and you lose a gearbox, you lose an engine, you lose transmission and unfortunately you are for nothing in that, and you are penalised.
“But if we start opening the door to this kind of thing, it will be endless.
“I think the stewards took the right decision unfortunately for Carlos. It’s very unfortunate because he had nothing to do but there was no other option.”