Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz made his feelings very clear as he insinuated a push from ‘rival teams’ prevented any chance of his grid penalty being waived.
Sainz may have finished qualifying in Las Vegas in second place with Ferrari claiming the front row, but the Spaniard will start the race from 12th as a result of having a 10-place grid penalty due to needing a new chassis and engine following a dramatic practice incident.
Sainz had been powering down the back straight of the Las Vegas circuit just nine minutes into FP1, when his car’s floor was torn apart by a manhole cover with an exposed water valve that had lifted up due to the F1 cars. Despite being blameless for the incident, caused by the circuit not being ready for use, Sainz was given the standard grid penalty with the stewards explaining no dispensation was possible due to the rulebook.
Carlos Sainz ‘simply disappointed’ after ‘expecting more from F1’
A morose Sainz addressed the situation as he spoke to the media after qualifying in Las Vegas, in which he detailed his disappointment with how the situation has been handled.
“I think it speaks for itself, no?” he said.
“There was clearly a safety issue at the track – that safety issue destroyed my car. My mechanics have to invest five hours in putting together a completely new car and, on top of that, we get a 10-place grid penalty for something that we have nothing to do with.
“I’m just simply disappointed. At the same time, not surprised, because there have been many cases this year that I think this sport has proven that it can do things a lot better.
“I think I’m surprised that the governing body does have the power to, in cases of force majeure, let’s say, overrule a bit in this kind of situation where it’s so clear that is something that is completely out of the team’s control and completely out of the driver’s control.
“The rules, the governing body, the teams – I don’t know, I expected more from the sport in the situation.”
Sainz then hinted that any possibility of unanimous support from the teams that may have helped his cause in some way wasn’t helped by at least one team not indicating that support – the Spaniard explaining there had been a push from at least one rival team for him to be hit with the penalty as normal.
“But, for some reason, there will be rival teams pushing for me to get a penalty which surprises me in a way,” he said, not naming names.
“In others, I’ve been in the sport for too long to understand that it’s business.
“There’s too much money involved in the finishing position in the Constructors’ or whatever for a team not to threaten to apply for a penalty for me.
“At the same time, as I said, not surprised. I’m extremely disappointed and honestly very upset with the whole situation, with the sport. I’m very upset, is the right word, and in a bad mood because I just expected more.”
While Sainz didn’t call out any names, it’s worth noting that Mercedes currently have a 20-point lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship with two races remaining. The Brackley-based team has denied they pushed for Sainz to be given the standard penalty.
Carlos Sainz ‘still in bad mood’ over penalty application
Sainz tried to be a happy team player after teammate Charles Leclerc and himself locked out the front row, but said he was struggling to shake off the bad mood the practice incident and reaction had put him in.
“Yeah, well, first of all, an outstanding job by the whole team,” Sainz said.
“We’ve dominated the qualifying together, you know, after a tough Friday yesterday to put together their whole car again.
“To get a front-row lock-out, I think it’s incredible.
“Obviously, I would love to be on pole because it would mean I would start 11th instead of 12th.
“But I think, yeah, we did the maximum that we could today.
“Obviously, still disappointed with yesterday, I’m not gonna lie. I’m still in a very bad mood. I’m trying not to show it too much but it is what it is.”
As for what he thinks may be possible starting from the 12th place grid slot, Sainz said he’s hopeful of climbing back to the front.
“Let’s see,” he said.
“It depends on obviously how the start goes, how the graining on the tyres is. Then also how it is to overtake. I think the pace clearly looks like we have it this weekend.
“I would love to be fighting for the win tomorrow with Charles and Max but, unfortunately, I’m going to be on a comeback mode or a combat race and, hopefully, I get to the front at some point and battle with them. But I think it’s gonna be tricky.”
But, pushed on whether he had more to say about his penalty and how it had unfolded, he explained that he is biting his tongue: “Yeah, I’m going to try and control myself.”