Karun Chandhok proposes alternative penalty for Carlos Sainz Melbourne incident

Jamie Woodhouse
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.

Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok believes a grid drop would have been a more appropriate punishment for Carlos Sainz after his Melbourne collision with Fernando Alonso.

It certainly was a chaotic Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, one with multiple red flag stoppages and race restarts, the final restart leading to carnage with multiple collisions among the remaining drivers.

One of those involved Sainz, who sent his compatriot Alonso in the Aston Martin into a spin, that earning him a five-second time penalty.

The race would end though behind the Safety Car, Sainz dropping from P4 to P12 in the final classification and cutting a very upset figure over that verdict.

Ferrari ultimately appealed the steward’s call, but were unsuccessful in their ‘right of review’ request, that dismissed after meeting with the stewards via video, where Ferrari had presented telemetry data, a statement from Sainz and driver interview transcripts as their ‘significant’ new evidence.

“SAI’s written witness statement is not a new significant and relevant element required to decide who was at fault for the collision,” the FIA wrote.

“First, had we thought that this required a statement from SAI for us to analyse the event, we would have summoned him after the race. We did not consider it necessary then to hear from him to decide that fact.

“We accordingly dismissed the Petition.”

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Sainz now then must refocus for the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where if it was up to Chandhok, Sainz would have been dropping three positions on the grid.

Chandhok argued that this would have been a fairer punishment in a race that concluded behind the Safety Car.

“I do think that if races finish behind the Safety Car, the stewards should consider a three-place grid drop at the following race instead of the 5 seconds being added,” Chandhok wrote on social media.

“Would be a more proportionate penalty…”

Sainz goes into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix P5 in the early Drivers’ standings on 20 points, with the gap to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton a position ahead now 18 points.