Ferrari’s right to review Carlos Sainz’s penalty and what to expect on Tuesday

Michelle Foster
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz spins Fernando Alonso. Australia April 2023.

Fernando Alonso spins after being tagged by the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Melbourne April 2023.

Ferrari will have to come to the table with significant, new and relevant evidence for the stewards to consider re-opening the case into Carlos Sainz’s Australian Grand Prix penalty.

That hearing will take place in as a virtual meeting at 8am CET on Tuesday.

The Spaniard was devastated when he was hit with a five-second penalty for being deemed “wholly to blame” for hitting Fernando Alonso at the second restart in Melbourne.

Pitching the Aston Martin into a spin and forcing those behind them into taking avoiding action, Sainz begged Ferrari “ask them please, please, please, please, please, to wait and discuss with me, clearly the penalty is not deserved, it’s too severe” when he was informed of his penalty.

The stewards did not wait to listen to the driver, Sainz falling from fourth to P12 in the overall classification.

Ferrari request right to review

Ferrari have since requested a right to review with that meeting set to include the Australian Grand Prix stewards: Nish Shetty, Loïc Bacquelaine, Christopher McMahon and driver representative Enrique Bernoldi (Brazil).

The FIA noted: “The stewards of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix have received a letter from Nikolas Tombazis, single-seater director of the FIA, attaching a petition by competitor Scuderia Ferrari dated 6th April 2023 under Article 14 of the FIA International Sporting Code (“Petition”), seeking a review of the stewards decision n°46 made within the framework of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix and requesting that the Stewards ‘consider such request and to make a determination whether or not a significant and relevant new element exists (Article 14.3 of the Code) in relation to the decision/incident.

“The driver(s) and team representative(s) are required to report to the stewards for a virtual hearing to be held on 18th April 2023 at 0800 CET in relation to the petition.”

Ferrari need to bring significant and new information to the table

In order for the stewards to even consider looking at the penalty, Ferrari need to provide significant and new information.

What that information is, that’s yet to be revealed with Ferrari keeping their cards close to their chest.

All team boss Fred Vasseur would say ahead of the meeting was: “We can expect at least to have an open discussion with them for the good of the sport to avoid to have this kind of decision where you have three cases on the same corner but not the same decision.

“The biggest frustration from Carlos, you heard it on the radio, was to not have the hearings because the case was very special. In this case it would have made sense as the race was over, it was not affecting the podium, to have hearings as Gasly and Ocon had.”

It does appear though that Ferrari will be questioning why Pierre Gasly and Logan Sargeant weren’t also penalised for crashing into rivals at the restart.

“With Gasly and Ocon, no penalty was given for the same offense, as with the crash De Vries and sinner Sargeant in the same curve and situation,” added the team boss.

Whether that would count as new and significant information remains to be seen.

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What comes next?

After hearing all relevant parties – other teams with an interest in the outcome are also allowed to participate in the process – the stewards will decide whether there is enough information to warrant a fresh look at Sainz’s penalty.

“The process is that first, they will have a look on our petition to see if they can re-open the case,” Vasseur explained.

“And then we’ll have a second hearing a bit later, with the same stewards or the stewards of the next meeting, about the decision itself.”

If the stewards believe Ferrari made their case for a new hearing, they will reconvene later to consider the outcome where multiple options would then be available, including imposing the same penalty, a different penalty or overturning the decision.

Vasseur hopes the matter will be settled before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the end of April.

“My hope is that a decision will be made before we get to the next grand prix,” said the Frenchman. “We certainly go there to reverse the decision, but we also want to speak for the good of sport and to try to eliminate this inconsistency.”