Sainz: FIA “a bit easy” on Russell with US GP collision penalty

Carlos Sainz has suggested the FIA stewards were “a bit easy” on George Russell after their contact at the start of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

Sainz: FIA “a bit easy” on Russell with US GP collision penalty

Russell nudged polesitter Sainz into a spin, sending him to the back of the field. The Ferrari driver pitted at the end of the lap and had to retire due to the damage caused in the clash.

Russell was given a five-second penalty that he took at his first pitstop, before going on to finish the race in fifth place, his own performance compromised by damage to his front wing.

Sainz believes Russell should have been given a bigger penalty, although he appreciated the fact that the Mercedes man went straight from parc ferme to find him in the Ferrari camp and apologise.

“Of course, it always honours the guy who does that straight away after the race,” said Sainz when asked by Autosport about Russell’s quick apology.

“I always respect that. It doesn't mean that I am happy. I think that the FIA also maybe was a bit easy on him for the consequences that happened.”

Asked if he could have done anything to avoid the contact, Sainz said: “I don't think I could have done something very different. I was in the middle of a battle with Max [Verstappen], Max went long and obviously had to brake a lot at the exit of the corner.

“We were both already getting out of the corner while George I think hadn't even done the corner and bumped into me, which is a shame.

“It's the kind of incident that you expect to see more in the midfield, when there's so many cars around you. But in the top four, I've never seen that incident happen that often.

“That's why I was so frustrated after the race. I obviously accepted George's apologies because it was good by him. But yeah, it was nothing I could have done."

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

Photo by: Erik Junius

“It was one of the toughest moments of the season,” he later said. “Very disappointing, because after doing a perfect weekend up until then for your race to be ruined by something out of your control is really tough.

“It's been also a few times this year, which makes it particularly frustrating to not do races, because it's what we all go to those places to do. But it's how it goes sometimes in motorsport, or in life, you go through rough patches and other easier ones.

“It seems that this year, everything that could happen to me, it's happening. I hope I can get them all out of the way this year for next year to have a smooth one.”

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Sainz stressed that the most encouraging outcome of Austin was that he proved he could get pole in a straight fight in dry conditions.

“On the positive side, the fact that I have the speed is the thing that leaves me a lot more calm about this year.

“The fact that I managed to come back through a very difficult start to the season and still managed to re-do myself, re-invent myself with my driving style, with my car, with my set-up, to all of a sudden be in the fight with the two guys that are most in form in F1 right now, that is Charles [Leclerc] and Max.

“Beating them to pole and fighting with them for pole is what leaves me calmer about the whole situation. If they're going to keep bumping into me in turn ones or I’m going to keep DNF'ing for whatever reasons, it's frustrating, but not for long, when I know if I have the speed.

“Normally the sport gives you back what you what it takes from you sooner or later. So I'm going to take the positives in that sense.”

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