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Sky Sports reporter Martin Brundle has called on Formula One’s governing body the FIA to make a change to their rules after Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz was deemed to have been given an unfair penalty at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Sainz was handed a 10-place grid penalty after the team were forced to fix damage caused by a loose drain cover on the track.
Sainz hit out at what he described as “one of the most unfair penalties I have ever seen” and stewards were allegedly searching the rulebook for a way not to punish the team, but came up empty. The regulations state that if a team replaces a car’s energy store using a new component then they must incur a penalty.
However, as Ferrari were forced into the change through no fault of their own the overwhelming opinion was that they should be spared. The team’s request was denied, as Brundle was one of many who felt that the rules should be rewritten “in the name of common sense” to avoid a repeat of this incident.
“The Ferraris looked on the pace throughout, and, just as in Monza, their low-downforce high top-speed aero package was working well,” Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column. “Carlos Sainz’s car had been wrecked by the errant access cover in first practice in a pretty scary way, and he needed many new parts including a battery pack which would hand him a 10-place grid penalty.
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“He was controlled but clearly beyond angry, as were his team who thought the penalty unfair in the circumstances. They also wanted to know who was going to pay for the damage.”
Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur also described the decision as “unacceptable” as they were forced into an unexpected expense. Sainz also started the Grand Prix from 12th, despite qualifying in second place – behind Charles Leclerc but crucially ahead of Max Verstappen, and Brundle wants the rules to be altered.
“There are hundreds of pages of rules in the International Sporting Code and the specific F1 Sporting and Technical regulations, but nothing which can allow the Stewards to legally turn a blind eye if something just doesn’t seem fair,” he continued.
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“It’s perilous to write a clause and create a precedent where the Stewards can unilaterally ignore regulations in the name of common sense and fairness in force majeure situations, even if every team and others key bodies agree.
“But we really must add some wording, with due checks and balances, which can be applied without fear of ensuing legal actions, or teams using it to advantage in other scenarios.”
Ferrari held discussions with FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis but stewards failed to grant the team’s request to avoid a punishment. “The stewards note that if they had the authority to grant a derogation in what they consider in this case to be mitigating, unusual and unfortunate circumstances, they would have done so, however the regulations do not allow such action,” the stewards said in a statement.
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