McLaren frustrated by double dose of Carlos Sainz ‘luck’ as Oscar Piastri damage revealed

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz sat on a structure carrying his number three finishing position at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz.

Lando Norris felt it was “unfair” how the FIA rulebook allowed Carlos Sainz to reclaim his P3 position in Monaco, while McLaren boss Andrea Stella called him “lucky Carlos” for that and escaping punishment after damaging Oscar Piastri’s car.

Sainz and Piastri tangled at the first corner of the Monaco GP as they battled over P2, Sainz picking up a puncture in the process and coming to a stop which promoted Piastri’s team-mate Norris to P3, or so he thought.

Lando Norris calls Carlos Sainz situation ‘frustrating and unfair’

Further chaos unfolded behind as Sergio Perez was involved in a huge shunt with the two Haas cars, triggering the red flags. Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu had not yet exited the first sector, so as per the rules, the restart order was taken from the last point where all remaining cars had their positions determined, which was the safety car two line.

That meant Sainz could bolt on a set of hard tyres and resume the Monaco GP in P3, where he finished, which served to irk Norris.

“I don’t think it’s the most fair thing, but I’m sure there’s been moments in the past where maybe I’ve been fortunate from it and they fixed the car a little bit or something like that,” said Norris.

“When you think of it in just a blunt way, it is frustrating and unfair, that because someone makes a mistake and because of a certain amount of cars or whatever, whatever the rule is, didn’t cross the line before the red flag and blah, blah, that he gets to undo that mistake and gets a free pit stop. It’s unfair.”

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But while Norris was disgruntled with that perceived instance of good fortune, his McLaren boss Stella highlighted another for Sainz, as he said that he was “puzzled” by the fact that Sainz was not punished by the stewards for that Piastri incident or after an impeding investigation after qualifying, also involving Alex Albon.

Stella compared the situation to Imola, where Piastri got a three-place grid penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen.

Piastri continued in the Monaco GP after that Sainz hit and would duly finish P2, though Stella claimed the damage inflicted on Piastri’s McLaren was worth “about half a second” in lost lap time, though they were able to roughly half that with repairs during the red flag stoppage.

“In terms of the way in which the restart order was determined, I think what the FIA did was the best thing to do,” Stella admitted.

“Also it is in agreement with the precedent, whereby you use the safety car line two when sector times are not available. I don’t think using the mini sectors is a good way of doing that.

“Obviously, the whole point that saved Carlos was that Zhou had not crossed the sector time at the time the race was suspended. Lucky Carlos.

“I think he was lucky today and also with the lenient approach from the stewards, because the collision in corner one obviously created significant damage to Oscar’s car – and this summed up yesterday’s impeding [investigation, where Sainz was not given a penalty after an impeding incident with Alex Albon].

“Like I say, lucky Carlos, this gained him a podium.

“We are happy for him but especially with yesterday impeding, we are still a little puzzled as to what the difference was between yesterday and Imola.”

With the red flag period taking away the mandatory in-race pit-stop requirement, the top five ran from the restart to the chequered flag on the same set of tyres, the race won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Norris admitted that there was “not a lot to aim for” other than getting the tyres to the end, as he congratulated team-mate Piastri on his first F1 podium.

“I mean, it’s never like that much going on in Monaco, but I think also the red flag simplifies things and made things even less action packed than whatever it normally is in Monaco,” Norris told Sky F1.

“So a good result for us as a team. Not a lot to aim for during the race, it’s just get your tyres to the end, don’t make mistakes, which is pretty simple, but I think for what it is, a fourth and a second. And congrats to Oscar for his podium. It’s always a lovely one to have here in Monaco.”

A window to pit so nearly opened up for Norris as Mercedes’ George Russell in P5 dropped over 20 seconds behind, but Norris said it was decided that it “wasn’t worth” the risk to make a pit stop, with track position so crucial in Monaco.

“It was cuspy and there was those little opportunities,” said Norris, “but at the same time, if you have a slightly slow stop or something, just wasn’t worth it.

“So as much as it can help sometimes, there’s always the risks of doing such a thing and if Carlos said he made a little mistake or touches the barrier a little bit, you’re also like, ‘Well, we should have stayed out and not done it’.

“You always think of what could you have done, should you have done and it’s impossible to answer it correctly.

“But we did what we could, I think the pace was strong from the car today, which is another good positive thing for the future and in the races we’ve been very strong lately.

“So yeah, we’ll keep it up. We’ll keep pushing and as let’s say not happy as I am, a fourth and a second for us is still an amazing result.”

Norris sits P3 in the Drivers’ Championship and 56 points behind leader Max Verstappen after the Monaco GP.

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