Vasseur: Stewards could have taken the time to discuss Sainz penalty

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Ferrari team principal Frédéric Vasseur believes the stewards should have heard from Carlos Sainz before handing him a 5-second penalty for his contact with Fernando Alonso.

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

After a late stage red flag, the race was restarted on lap 56. As the cars entered turn 1, Sainz, who was running fourth, made contact with Alonso and sent the Aston Martin spinning. As chaos unfolded, the race was red flagged again.

Alonso was able to continue after the contact, and rejoined the remaining cars in the pitlane. Sainz was awarded a 5-second penalty for causing a collision, with the stewards ruling he was “wholly to blame” for the contact as “there was sufficient gap for Car 55 to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.”

Sainz was informed about the stewards’ decision by his race engineer during the final red flag period. He vehemently opposed the penalty over the radio, asking his team to “tell [the stewards] it is unacceptable, tell them they need to wait until the race is finished and discuss with me.”

The penalty dropped him from P4 to P12, meaning Ferrari failed to score with their remaining driver after a racing incident on the opening lap saw Charles Leclerc retire from the race. Alonso went on to claim a third consecutive podium finish for Aston Martin.

“My job is to take the positives not just the negatives but just like this, jumping off the pit wall, I think it is more a negative because we did overall a good job,” Vasseur said, speaking to Channel 4 after the race on Sunday.

“Carlos had a very good recovery after the unlucky pit stop just before the red flag and to get penalised like this just before the end is very harsh.”

“For sure, depending on your team the analysis will be different but I think what is a shame for me, considering it was not impacting the podium, at least the stewards could have listened to them and have a look on the data.”

He added: “I think this is a bit of a shame, last week we changed the regulations two times in ten minutes about the pit stop for Alonso, we could have done the same today, at least to discuss.”

Vasseur reiterated that he believes the situation could have been handled differently: “With an incident on track you have always two cars in the incident and you have two ways of seeing the incident.”

“Coming from Ferrari, being the team principal of Carlos, my position is not the same as the other guys in the paddock. But I think in this kind of situation we could take five minutes to discuss and have a look at the data.”

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Vasseur dismissed the idea of Ferrari appealing the decision. However, Ferrari has since confirmed they are petitioning for a right to review.