Max Verstappen suggests F1 rule change as drivers support Carlos Sainz over grid penalty row

Thomas Maher
Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc with Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen pictured with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc after qualifying at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has said the rules need to change regarding blameless drivers being given grid penalties, in support of Carlos Sainz.

The Ferrari driver will start Sunday’s Las Vegas Grand Prix from 12th on the grid, having been given a 10-place penalty for a change of power unit after his FP1 incident when the floor of his car was torn apart by an errant manhole cover.

With Sainz and Ferrari blameless for the incident – caused by the circuit not being quite ready for F1 use – the stewards were nonetheless unable to look the other way as the sporting regulations don’t allow for special dispensation for such circumstances.

Max Verstappen: The rules have to change

Sitting alongside Sainz in the post-qualifying press conference on Saturday, three-time F1 World Champion Max Verstappen was asked for his opinion on the issue, with the Dutch driver saying the penalty for Sainz was too harsh given him and his team being completely innocent of any sort of wrongdoing.

“The rules have to change for that,” he said.

“It’s the same if you get taken out and you have a big accident.”

Verstappen is likely referring to 2021 with this example when the Red Bull driver suffered catastrophic damage and the loss of a power unit when he collided with Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix

“You can lose parts of the engine, energy store, all these kinds of things. So, first of all, that needs to change. These things can be taken into consideration, that if you can take a free, let’s say, penalty or not and it will not be counted.”

Verstappen’s suggestion is to remove the teams from being able to cast votes or apply pressure to situations like this, in light of the allegations from Sainz that “rival teams” indicated a lack of support for overturning the penalty.

“And besides that, I think the teams should not be allowed to have a say in these kind of things. Because for sure they’re going to vote against that. Personally, I do think it’s very harsh on Carlos, but in this political environment that we are in, of course every team thinks about themselves and they, of course, are going to say no, he has to take the penalty.” recommends

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Charles Leclerc, who could have enjoyed rear gunner support from Sainz as Ferrari locked out the front row before Sainz’s penalty was applied, agreed with Verstappen by succinctly saying: “You have everything.”

Fernando Alonso is another leading driver to have shown support for the Ferrari driver, with Sainz revealing his disappointment in how the situation was handled during a morose monologue during the press conference.

“Yeah, it was sad. It was not good,” Alonso said of the events of Friday practice and the subsequent delays to practice as the drain covers were amended.

“It is difficult to find a better solution. Once you find the drain covers have not been properly made or whatever, I think everyone was doing their best to make FP2 still happen.

“The only maybe bad thing or something that we could change is the penalty for Carlos. It’s a little bit harsh. But apart from that, I think the way that all the rest of things were done, I think it was the only way to make it done.”

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