Written by Vyas Ponnuri
Formula One’s governing body, the FIA. have accepted Ferrari’s request for a review of Carlos Sainz’s five-second penalty, handed out in the late stages of the Australian Grand Prix.
Sainz tagged fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso, triggering a sequence of events during a chaotic restart, following a stoppage in proceedings due to Kevin Magnussen’s stricken Haas on the side of turn four. Sainz, in his battle to stay ahead of Alpine driver Pierre Gasly, went into Alonso’s Aston Martin, the Spaniard trying to get a run on Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on the run down to Turn three. Sainz continued on, while Alonso dropped down to tenth. Gasly cut across the corner, rejoining in the path of teammate Esteban Ocon. The track narrowed at the point, and both Alpine drivers came to blows, stopping by the side of the track.
Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries had their own incident at the rear of the field during the restart. The red flag was thrown, and as the drivers hadn’t made it past the first timing line, the grid was reverted to its original order before the restart, which saw Alonso reclaim his third position. The stewards deemed Sainz responsible for the restart chaos, and slapped him with a five-second penalty, sending the Spaniard out of the points from what would have been a fourth-place finish.
Sainz was not pleased, stating in the post-race interview that he was, “Too angry to talk” and had requested Ferrari to consider reviewing the decision with the stewards.
Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur confirmed the appeal to review Sainz’s penalty last week, submitting a request to review the Spaniard’s penalty on 6th April.
And on Friday, 14th April, the FIA set a date for reviewing their decision. The appeal will be reviewed on Tuesday, 18th April, in four days time.
Ferrari’s right to review is based on car data not being available to the FIA at the time, although Vasseur declined to reveal any details behind the right to review:
“It's up to the stewards to decide what is the right penalty, but for me at least for Carlos, for the team, to reopen the discussion, it’s a first step. The outcome of this will be up to the FIA. We have our argument for sure, but I will keep the argument for the FIA.
“For sure we are expecting the review of the decision, because it's a petition for review, and we are not going to get the same decision.”
Yet, it seems right to review the penalty, considering the previous grid order being reinstated after the chaotic restart, which rendered the lap to be a non-event. And thus, Sainz’s penalty looks harsher in hindsight, and with the cars all close together after the restart, Sainz’s penalty had a more telling effect on his race, dropping him right out of the points.
The red team aren’t the first team to submit a “Right to review” appeal to the FIA this season, as Aston Martin had successfully done so in Jeddah, rescinding the five-second penalty handed to Alonso, with the Spaniard retaining his 100th rostrum appearance.
If the appeal is successful, Sainz’s fourth place would be reinstated, and the drivers - Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Nico Hulkenberg, Oscar Piastri, Zhou Guanyu, and Yuki Tsunoda will drop back one position.