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Formula 1 Australian GP

FIA dismisses Sainz's F1 Australian GP penalty review

The FIA has dismissed Ferrari’s petition to review the penalty handed to Carlos Sainz in the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Ferrari had appealed to the governing body for a right to review in response to Sainz being handed a five-second penalty for tagging with Fernando Alonso during the final restart of the Melbourne race.

This came as part of several restart incidents to ultimately cause the grand prix to end behind the safety car, with the bunched train of cars causing Sainz to drop from fourth to 12th in the final order as a result of his penalty.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur revealed his team would appeal the decision since the stewards had hit Sainz with the penalty before the driver or team could mount a defence.

But the FIA has thrown out the Ferrari petition, citing that the team did not bring “significant and relevant new information which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned.”

The stewards found Sainz to be “wholly to blame” for the collision with Aston Martin driver Alonso, who ultimately reclaimed third place due to the final result-deciding safety car classification being based on the previous restart grid order minus crashed cars.

Following the virtual hearing with the FIA, it was concluded that even considering the increased likelihood of an incident on the first lap of a restart, there was a “sufficient gap” for Sainz to have taken avoiding action but that he “failed to do so”.

Ferrari presented its case based around telemetry data, a witness statement from Sainz and other drivers’ accounts as given in the post-race interview media sessions.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

This kind of evidence, in the form of verbal testimony and additional data, has been previously used by Force India to overturn a similar reprimand, so cited Ferrari.

The Force India example came from Sergio Perez's last-lap clash with Felipe Massa at the 2014 Canadian GP, which the Mexican was given a five-place grid penalty for that he served at the next race in Austria.

But the FIA found the “factual circumstances” in Australia to be “quite different” to uphold the Scuderia argument, notably that the Force India driver had been taken to hospital following the collision so was unavailable to give their version for a post-race decision.

But this time around, the stewards were content to penalise Sainz while the race was still underway and did not feel a statement from the 2022 British GP winner was necessary.

These quicker decisions are undertaken “routinely” and are “encouraged” when the cause of the collision is clear, so that penalties can be issued “as quickly as possible”.

The FIA also decided that the extra telemetry presented by Ferrari was “at best ambiguous” when it came to clearing Sainz’s name, but that it instead “corroborated” the decision that he was wholly at fault.

Sainz did argue that he had braked harder for Turn 1 but with colder Pirelli tyres owing to the slow formation lap for the restart – a complaint voiced by many drivers – he had been less able to avoid Alonso. He also said the low sun had impaired visibility.

The FIA noted that presenting a braking point does not constitute significant new information and that all drivers had to make do with the same circumstances.

The decision read: “The conditions of the track and the tyres was something that every competitor needed to take into account and adapt to.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“In trying to brake late while racing [Pierre Gasly], [Sainz] adopted the risk that he, as a driver, would lose control of his car.

“In this case, that risk materialised, with the consequence of a collision that ensued, for which a penalty follows.”

Sainz took to social media on Tuesday evening to express his disappointment over the FIA’s decision.

Sainz wrote: “Very disappointed that the FIA did not grant us a right to review.

“Two weeks later, I still think the penalty is too disproportionate and I believe it should have at least been reviewed on the basis of the evidence and reasoning we presented.

“We have to continue working together to improve certain things for the future. The consistency and decision making process has been a hot topic for many seasons now and we need to be clearer for the sake of our own sport.

“What happened in Australia is now in the past and I am 100% focused on the next race in Baku.”

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