Ferrari explains why Carlos Sainz escaped FIA sanction to retain pole position

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc congratulates Carlos Sainz on his Monza pole position.

Level-headed Carlos Sainz v talented Charles Leclerc

Investigated for exceeding the FIA’s mandated minimal lap time in qualifying, Fred Vasseur says his Ferrari drivers escaped punishment because they’d done so to “let someone go” past.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc delighted Ferrari’s Tifosi on Saturday as they qualified at the front of the field for the Italian Grand Prix with the Spaniard on pole position to Leclerc’s P3.

Sainz clocked a 1:20.294 to beat Max Verstappen by 0.013s with Leclerc a further 0.05s down. But their positions weren’t safe with the teammates facing a post-qualifying investigation.

Ferrari team boss: It was by regulation

The stewards announced after Q1 that the Ferrari teammates were under investigation for exceeding the minimal lap time laid out by FIA race director Niels Wittich on Saturday morning.

In a bid to avoid qualifying descending into a traffic farce, Wittich announced that all laps would have a minimal lap time that the drivers had to adhere to, not just the in-laps as is the norm.

With a target of 1:41, Leclerc reportedly clocked a 1:50.286 and Sainz a 1:58.458 during the opening qualifying segment with the teammates facing possible grid penalties.

However, the stewards announced after qualifying that no further action would be taken, meaning Sainz retained his pole position with Leclerc P3 on the grid.

Vasseur has explained why.

“It was by regulation,” the team boss told Sky Sports. “You are allowed to exceed if you slow down to let someone go. And it’s what’s happened.”

Vasseur is now looking forward to a strong race from his drivers.

“It’s a good achievement in itself because the target of Saturday was the pole position,” he said.

“We did it, but we have to keep in mind to stay calm, the most important part of the weekend will be on Sunday.”

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‘Some exceptional circumstances’ explains Ted Kravitz

When Wittich updated his race notes, he stated “other than in exceptional circumstances accepted as such by the Stewards” with Sky Sports Ted Kravitz saying the Ferrari drivers’ actions fell under that.

“There was a get-out phrase, which says unless there are exceptional circumstances, and it turns out there were some exceptional circumstances,” he said.

“Sainz said that he didn’t want to impede anyone else and Charles Leclerc was letting a load of people through, so it didn’t apply to them.

“And even if it had applied to them, and there weren’t exceptional circumstances, the worst penalty they were ever going to get was a reprimand because that’s the worst penalty that’s been handed out by the stewards for breaching a race directors’ note instruction. So we shouldn’t have worried.”

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