Carlos Sainz‘s 2023 Canadian Grand Prix weekend went from bad to worse as he was handed a three-place grid penalty for the race after impeding Pierre Gasly in qualifying.
Sainz dawdled on the final corner at the end of Q1 seemingly oblivious to the frantic qualifying session going on around him and blocked Gasly as he prepared for his final lap, scuppering the Frenchman’s chances of escaping the bottom five.
Gasly qualified 17th, and Sainz will start the grand prix eleventh after his penalty, which elevates Oscar Piastri, Alex Albon and his teammate Charles Leclerc.
The Alpine driver was furious with Sainz and called for him to be banned, while team principal Otmar Szafnauer called the Ferrari driver’s actions ‘ridiculous’.
Why was Sainz penalised?
There was a drying track at the end of Q1, meaning drivers were stalling as they attempted to be the last driver to cross the line and start their flying laps.
Sainz in particular was stalling down the back straight and Yuki Tsunoda had to overtake him at the final corner while Lando Norris was also disadvantaged.
Sainz argued Tsunoda‘s move had surprised him which caused him to accelerate late, but after the stewards found a significant speed difference between Sainz and Gasly, they still handed down the penalty.
The stewards’ report said: “Although the overtaking move by Car 22 [Tsunoda] took the driver of Car 55 [Sainz] by surprise, it is our determination that the driver of Car 55 was predominantly to blame and unnecessarily impeded Car 10 [Gasly].”
It caps off an already disappointing Saturday in Montreal for Sainz, who crashed in wet conditions in FP3.
Having just set the second-fastest time of the session at the halfway mark, Sainz lost control at turn one and slammed into the barriers, leaving the Ferrari mechanics needing to perform a rapid rebuild of the SF-23.
He was also investigated for impeding Alex Albon, but no further action was taken.