The FIA have moved to explain the reason why Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz was handed a five-second penalty towards the end of the 2023 Australian GP, a sanction which led to him dropping out the points scoring positions.
Following a red flag restart, Sainz was running in fourth and tagged Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin sending his fellow Spaniard into a spin. That, along with a number of other Turn 1 incidents, let to a second red flag at the end of the race.
Then, during stoppage, and as the FIA were deciding how to end the race, Sainz was slapped with a five-second penalty for his collision with Alonso. This dropped him down the order as the racing never resumed and the field was bunched together meaning the Ferrari eventually finished 12th in Melbourne.
Stewards’ Sainz decision
Following a review of the incident, the race stewards in Australia believe that Sainz – Car 55 – was completely to blame and that the Ferrari should have taken more steps to avoid a collision with Alonso – Car 14.
“The Stewards reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, timing, telemetry,
team radio and in-car video evidence and determined that on the first corner of the
restart, a collision occurred between Car 55 and Car 14. We determined that Car 55
was wholly to blame for the collision,” a statement release by the FIA read.
“Car 14 was significantly ahead of Car 55 at the first corner and nevertheless Car 55
drove into Car 14, causing it to spin and leave the track. We accordingly imposed a
5-second penalty on Car 55.
“For avoidance of doubt, we took into account the fact that this collision took place at
the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the Stewards would typically take a
more lenient view of incidents.
“However, in this particular case, notwithstanding the fact that it was the equivalent of
a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for Car 55 to take
steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.
“Competitors are reminded that they have the right to appeal certain decisions of the
Stewards, in accordance with Article 15 of the FIA International Sporting Code and
Chapter 4 of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, within the applicable time limits.”