Carlos Sainz has escaped with a warning after being called to the stewards for ‘erratic driving’ during qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver was seen in front of Max Verstappen during Q2 while the pair ramped up for a final flying lap, but with the Red Bull driver looking to get past, he believed Sainz was “defending” against him.
This led to Verstappen complaining over team radio and the stewards decided to investigate the moment after the session, but Sainz has escaped without a grid penalty or reprimand.
Carlos Sainz escapes with warning after ‘erratic driving’ investigation
Verstappen closed up behind Sainz while on an out-lap during qualifying and when he couldn’t get past his former Toro Rosso team-mate, he took to team radio to say: “What is he doing, man? He’s defending!
“Did you see that? I almost crashed into him.”
But Sainz, who ended up eliminated from Q2 in his lowest qualifying position of the season in 12th, had to report to the stewards after qualifying to plead his case, and he received a warning after a lengthy investigation.
The stewards’ verdict read: “Car 55 [Sainz] was on a cool-down lap while Car 1 [Verstappen] was on a out lap. When Car 1 caught up on Car 55 and tried to pass, the driver of Car 55 defended his position and did that in a manner that was reasonably unpredictable for the pursuing car.
“During the hearing the driver of Car 55 stated that he could not afford being passed by another car as he had to stay below the maximum lap time between SC lines 2 and 1.
“Whilst this was accepted by the Stewards as well as by the driver of Car 1, the measures taken by Car 55 were deemed to be unnecessary given the fact that the incident happened in qualifying and cars are not supposed to directly race each other while preparing for flying laps.
“The Stewards determine that a warning is appropriate on this occasion given the circumstances.”