The FIA has explained why it labelled Carlos Sainz “wholly to blame” for his collision with Fernando Alonso at the second restart of the Australian Grand Prix.
It was a frenetic race at Albert Park on Sunday, with three separate red flag periods punctuating an action-packed day and two additional standing starts to boot.
The last one came with just two laps left on the clock, and Sainz looked to try and pass his compatriot for a place on the podium, but ultimately tagged his wheel and spun the Aston Martin around as a result.
He was informed of his penalty during the extra red flag stoppage, with five seconds set to be added to his overall race time, and the Ferrari driver was furious, saying over team radio: “No, it’s unacceptable. Tell them it is unacceptable, tell them they need to wait until the race is finished and discuss with me.
“Clearly the penalty is not deserved, it’s too severe.”
A five-second penalty is not the toughest punishment available to the FIA, but as the drivers would cross the finish line in yellow flag conditions, those seconds would drop him all the way back to 12th and last of the classified runners.
There had been questions raised about whether Sainz should be punished in such a way given the incident took place at a standing restart, and the FIA tends to offer more discretion to drivers at race starts, but the governing body explained that it still took this element of its decision-making into consideration when applying the penalty.
The FIA wrote in its verdict of the incident: “The Stewards reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, timing, telemetry, team radio and in-car video evidence and determined that on the first corner of the restart, a collision occurred between Car 55 (Sainz) and Car 14 (Alonso).
“We determined that Car 55 was wholly to blame for the collision. Car 14 was significantly ahead of Car 55 at the first corner and nevertheless Car 55 drove into Car 14, causing it to spin and leave the track. We accordingly imposed a 5-second penalty on Car 55.
“For avoidance of doubt, we took into account the fact that this collision took place at the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the Stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.
“However, in this particular case, notwithstanding the fact that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for Car 55 to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.”
Sainz is able to appeal against the penalty, and he had looked to meet with the stewards as soon as possible after the race to plead his case in this instance.
Sainz’s penalty capped off a miserable afternoon for Ferrari, after Charles Leclerc had retired from the race on the first lap after being put into the gravel at Turn 3.