Aston Martin protest over Carlos Sainz Chinese GP qualifying crash dismissed

Carlos Sainz qualified seventh for the 2024 Chinese GP despite caused Q2 to be red-flagged as he crashed his Ferrari

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After a sprint Saturday at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, the drama went on a little longer as the stewards were investigating Carlos Sainz for his Q2 crash that temporarily brought out the red flags.

Sainz ran wide at the final corner with around seven minutes to go in the session and kept the power down even as he dipped a tyre into the gravel, causing him to spin and bump the barriers on the left-hand-side of the start-finish straight.

He was able to continue with only his front-wing damaged, and even went on to escape the session, eventually qualifying seventh and just 0.024 seconds behind fifth-placed Oscar Piastri.

Aston Martin protested Sainz‘s continued presence in the session after that crash. While Fernando Alonso qualified third behind only the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll was eliminated in Q2 in 11th place as Sainz snuck through.

The stewards’ summons, published at 17:44 local time, read: “Any team representative(s) needed in relation to the protest lodged by Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team about an alleged breach of Article 39.6 of the 2024 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations during the Qualifying session for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix are required to report to the Stewards at 18:00.”

What rule could Sainz have broken?

Article 39.6 of the F1 Sporting Regulations states that: “Any driver whose car stops on the track during the qualifying session or the sprint shootout will not be permitted to take any further part in that session.”

Sainz did stop on track but was able to get moving again under his own steam relatively quickly, with the initial aftermath of the crash looking worse than the actual incident itself.

With Sainz so close to the edge of the track on the start-finish straight, it was the safest precaution to take and the Spaniard was stopped on track, but the regulations don’t detail how long a stoppage must be to constitute breaking the regulations.

Stewards’ verdict on protest

Aston Martin’s protest was swiftly dismissed by the stewards who were clear about the correct application of the rule given the number of previous examples.

“It is clear that the plain language of Art. 39.6 suggests that so long as a car ‘stops’ on the track during a qualifying session, that car should not be permitted to take further part in the session,” the stewards’ verdict read.

“However, it was clear from the examples cited by a number of the team managers present and the FIA, that this was not how this rule was applied by the teams and the FIA in the past.

“The FIA team explained that so long as the car was able to restart and continue from a stopped position within a reasonable time, that would ordinarily be permitted.

“The teams themselves said that they had previously attempted to agree what they considered to be a reasonable length of time before a car would be considered ‘stopped’.

“Unfortunately, they were not able to come to a final agreement on the maximum time allowed.

“We considered that even if the plain wording of Article 39.6 warranted a more stark
conclusion, the consistent practice in the sport to date did not warrant a setting aside of the discretion exercised by Race Control by us as Stewards.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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