Sainz Challenges F1 Penalty System

Carlos Sainz has highlighted two incidents arising from the Miami Grand Prix that, in his view, have underscored inconsistencies in the penalty process within Formula 1.

Expressing his confusion and struggle to comprehend the decision-making process behind Formula 1 penalties, Sainz admitted his bemusement. Following the Miami Grand Prix, Sainz found himself on the receiving end of a five-second sanction from the stewards.

The penalty was a result of contact with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, which led to the breakage of Piastri’s front wing and subsequently caused him to drop out of the points standings after having to pit for repairs.

The consequence of this penalty was a demotion for Sainz from his fourth-place position on the track to fifth, with Sergio Perez advancing one position. Sainz, however, believes that the severity of the impact caused by the contact disproportionately influenced the penalty he received.

“I lost minimal control of the car when overtaking Oscar, I unfortunately damaged his front-wing and obviously he went backwards 15 positions – and I got a five-second time penalty,” he stated.

“In that sense, I know we keep thinking we don’t look at the outcome [of the contact], but in this case, I think clearly we’re still looking at the outcome. 

“In my opinion, the consequences are still having a bit of an affect in the penalty that you get which I don’t fully share and I am still a bit puzzled and struggle with it sometimes.”

Sainz also referred to an incident at the beginning of the race, where Red Bull’s Perez braked deeply, locked up, and narrowly avoided colliding with his teammate Max Verstappen.

While there was no direct contact caused by Perez, his actions forced drivers behind him, including Sainz, to react, resulting in the loss of positions. Despite the absence of contact, the Spanish driver believed that Perez should have faced penalties for his actions.

“Drivers sometimes don’t [understand] either,” Sainz remarked regarding the complexity of the penalty situation.

“In this case, I struggle to understand it, and I’m going to put a very clear example that I even shared with Checo at the start – he completely lost control and nearly took two guys out. 

“We were lucky to avoid him, he went off the track and there wasn’t a consequence, there wasn’t any contact but it cost a lot to my race and other people’s races and he didn’t get a penalty.

“Because I am completely certain that if Oscar didn’t have to pit, then I wouldn’t have got a penalty and everyone would be talking about a good overtake and good action on a track where it is extremely difficult to overtake and you had to go for a move like that.

“But on the other hand, Checo didn’t touch anyone, we all managed to avoid him and there was no penalty.”