Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has criticized the FIA after #55 Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. was hit with a five-second penalty at the Australian Grand Prix, one that dropped him fourth to 12th.
Sainz Jr. tried to pass Fernando Alonso up the inside at Turn 1 on the restart with two laps to go, but misjudged and tapped the Aston Martin into a spin.
When informed of the penalty while seated in his Ferrari, the Spaniard pleaded, “No, it cannot be, Ricky [Adami, race engineer], this will put me out of the points.
“No, it’s unacceptable. Tell them it is unacceptable, tell them they need to wait until the race is finished and discuss with me.
“Ask them please, please, please, please, please, to wait and discuss with me, clearly the penalty is not deserved, it’s too severe.”
Vasseur wasn’t impressed, especially as one race prior it took the race stewards 30 laps to notice that Alonso’s car had been touched when he came in to serve a penalty for being out of position on the grid.
The penalty was only confirmed shortly after the podium celebration, and three hours later it was rescinded.
“My job is to take the positive and the negative,” Vasseur told Channel 4, “but just like this, it’s more the negative because I think we did overall a good job.
“Carlos had a very good recovery after the unlucky pit stop just before the red flag, and to get penalized like this at the end is very harsh. For sure you are emotional in this kind of situation because you are not far away from the podium, you are P4, coming from nowhere when all the others got a pit stop for free. He did a mega good job.
“I think we can discuss [for] hours about the penalty if it’s harsh or not. Depending on the position of your team, the analysis will be different, but I think what is a shame for me is that considering it was not impacting the podium, at least the stewards could’ve listened and had a look at the data.
“I think this is a bit of a shame. Last week we changed the regulations two times in 10 minutes about the pit stop for Alonso, and they could have done the same today, [or] at least discussed it.”
“Last week, they took 30 laps to decide if Alonso was into the box or not. Today it took five seconds.”
Even Alonso, the driver who was spun, feels Sainz’s penalty was “too harsh.”
“I think because on lap one it is very difficult always to judge what the grip level [is] and I think we don’t go intentionally into another car, you know, because we know that we risk also our car and our final position, so sometimes you end up in places that you wish you were not at that moment.”