Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz has opined on why Carlos Sainz was upset to the point of tears after being given a five-second time penalty late in the Australian Grand Prix.
Sainz finished outside of the points at the chequered flag in Australia, having briefly looked a contender for a podium finish in the closing stages as the race was red-flagged due to Kevin Magnussen knocking his right-rear wheel off.
At the standing restart, Sainz attempted an overtake on Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and clattered into the right-rear of his compatriot – spinning Alonso out and sending him down to the back of the pack.
But, with carnage throughout the field as the two Alpine drivers collided moments later, as well as off-track moments for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, while Logan Sargeant also ran into the back of Nyck de Vries, the race was red-flagged again to allow for a clean-up.
Race Control took the decision to reset the order back to what it had been for the standing restart for the final run to the chequered flag, meaning that Sainz’s collision with Alonso was inconsequential – the Aston Martin driver was restored to third place. But Sainz, despite running in fourth, was not so fortunate as he was given a five-second time penalty.
Carlos Sainz: The most unfair penalty I’ve seen in my life
Before the race resumed, Sainz made his feelings clear over team radio as he pleaded for the opportunity to at least meet the stewards after the race – an opportunity which was not granted.
Sainz crossed the line in fourth, falling down to 12th as the cars crossed the line behind the Safety Car and the five seconds were added to his race time.
Sainz was extremely angry after the chequered flag, telling media: “It’s the most unfair penalty I’ve seen in my life, so before talking to you and saying really bad stuff and bad words I prefer to to go back to the stewards, have a conversation with them and then maybe I can come back and talk to the media because now I honestly I cannot do it. I think it’s too unfair and I don’t feel well to speak.”
Appearing on the Sky Sports F1 podcast after the Australian Grand Prix, Ted Kravitz explained the thinking behind Sainz’s position and said it was perhaps understandable why the Ferrari driver was so upset.
“Maybe Sainz’s thoughts about this was that it never happened,” he said.
“You’re putting the Astons back in, like what happened with Sainz never happened. Yet you’re penalising Sainz for the thing that happened, but didn’t happen, because the Astons are still there. And there’s no foul. So, if there’s no harm, Sainz is thinking there’s no harm to Fernando, then there’s no foul on me.
“He was in tears. If you listen to the team radio at the end of the race, he was crying on the radio after the race.”
Ted Kravitz: Carlos Sainz’s thinking was that there was inconsistency
The discussion turned to whether the penalty could be seen as fair given that, with the race concluding behind the Safety Car, Sainz had no opportunity to try opening a gap to the cars behind and try to salvage something from his race – a race that had seen him as one of two drivers to pit under the early Safety Car before the first red flag.
There was also the fact that the Ocon/Gasly clash went without punishment, as well as the Sargeant/De Vries collision going entirely without an investigation by the stewards.
“They can’t take into account the effect of the penalty – otherwise, that would confuse everything,” Kravitz said.
“I think Sainz’s point was that it was on ‘Lap 1’ where there’s always a little bit more leniency. ‘If you penalise me for that, then you have to penalise Lance Stroll for taking out my teammate, even though it wasn’t really Lance’s fault, but he’s saying it wasn’t really my fault.
“‘And you have to penalise Pierre Gasly for taking out Esteban Ocon, which wasn’t really either of their fault because it was a racing incident, because Gasly came on and didn’t see Ocon.’ That is Sainz’s point – that there was a fundamental inconsistency. I think he put it quite strongly, but he was emotional – you can understand why.
“Crucially, they didn’t listen to what he had to say. He wanted to be able to go to the stewards, explain what was going on, to hear from Fernando.
“It would have depended if Sainz was still in it and if it was a happy Fernando because, if it was a happy Fernando still on the podium and Carlos P4, I think Fernando said ‘Well, I see your point’ and maybe there’s no harm there.
“If they had decided to do the [Nico] Hulkenberg favouring podium restarting order, you would have still had the angry Fernando, who would have sunk Sainz and said ‘absolutely, he deserves a penalty, give him the penalty’. So that was why he was so upset.”