(GMM) Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher has joined the highly-outspoken Max Verstappen in agreeing that Carlos Sainz’s penalty in Las Vegas is “outrageous”.
Spaniard Sainz triggered the day-1 chaos at the sport’s new and show-oriented event when his Ferrari ripped up a manhole cover – and destroyed his red car.
Verstappen says it’s clear that the circuit simply wasn’t properly prepared for Formula 1.
“Sorry, but if you look at those covers, you really don’t need a high IQ to know what would happen if a Formula 1 car drives over them,” he charged.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff lashed out at a journalist who told him the manhole cover situation was a “black eye” for the new Las Vegas GP, but Verstappen hit back at the Austrian.
“Toto would talk completely differently if it had been his car,” said the Red Bull driver, “but I don’t expect anything different from him.
“Carlos said he couldn’t feel anything in his legs for a few seconds after the blow so it could have been a lot worse.
“They have to learn the lessons and be prepared for criticism.”
Initially, the FIA seemed keen to allow Sainz to replace the damaged components without penalty – but the stewards subsequently found that the rules did not allow them to act with such discretion.
Sainz qualified ahead of Verstappen in P2 late on Friday – but now has to move 10 places down the grid to serve the component-replacement penalty.
He is astonished a common sense ‘force majeure’ clause in the rules doesn’t exist.
“I’m disappointed but at the same time not surprised because there’s been many cases this year that I think the sport has proven that it can do things a lot better,” he said.
It is rumored Ferrari’s rival for second overall in the constructors’ championship – Mercedes – pushed the FIA to enforce Sainz’s penalty.
“For sure there were rival teams pushing for that, which surprises me in a way,” Sainz said. “But I’ve also been in this sport for long enough to understand that it’s business.”
Verstappen agrees that a team like Mercedes would have objected to a penalty dispensation.
“In this political environment we are in, of course every team thinks about themselves,” he said. “And of course that has to change in the rules.”
Sainz thinks bad rules like this turn off exactly the sort of fans that F1 is trying to attract with a Las Vegas-style extravaganza.
“I have people that have never come to a race that are still asking me why I’m getting a penalty for what happened,” said Sainz.
“I’m all for the show, all for growing the sport, but the sport has to be there.”
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is also astonished the sport was compelled to penalize Sainz for the broken manhole cover.
“There doesn’t seem to be a real solution – like a team survey or something,” he said on Sky Deutschland.
“As crazy as it sounds, there is no force majeure and I find it unbelievable, almost outrageous, that Sainz is being punished twice like this.”