Sainz handed a Las Vegas grid penalty after manhole cover incident

Sainz handed a Las Vegas grid penalty after manhole cover incident

Carlos Sainz has been handed a ten-place grid penalty for the Las Vegas Grand Prix after his Ferrari struck a manhole cover and suffered serious damage.

During the brief opening practice session for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz struck a loose manhole cover severely damaging his Ferrari as the incident triggered hours of track maintenance.

Nine minutes into the first practice, Sainz’s Ferrari and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine ran over a manhole cover, or more accurately a loose water valve structure, causing severe damage. This led to the session being put on hold and eventually called off entirely.

The loose manhole cover destroyed both cars’ underbodies and chassis, necessitating the build of new chassis by Ferrari and Alpine as well as a cautious track inspection by the FIA to ensure the safety of the circuit’s thirty remaining drain covers.

Tragically, after the SF-23 was struck by the cover, Ferrari crews were also forced to replace the energy store, control electronics and the internal combustion engine because they were damaged beyond repair.

The incident ought to have been grounds for extraordinary circumstances resulting to a penalty exemption for Sainz, but the stewards were unable to locate any clause in the F1 rulebook that would have permitted Ferrari to add the new PU elements to Sainz’s car without subjecting him to a penalty.

A statement from the stewards following the incident read: “Having received a request from [Ferrari] requesting a derogation of the Sporting Regulations in order to allow a replacement of the Energy Store from outside the pool, without penalty.

“And having heard from the team representative, the Director FIA Single Seater Department [Nikolas Tombazis], having viewed video evidence and examined the Team’s declaration sheet, the stewards, determine that notwithstanding the fact that the damage was caused by highly unusual external circumstances.

“Article 2.1 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations obliges all officials, including the Stewards, to apply the regulations as they are written. Accordingly, the mandatory grid penalty specified under Article 28.3 of the Sporting Regulations must be applied.

“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.”

According to sources, the stewards went looking for means to spare the Ferrari driver from a penalty for more than two hours.

However, all solutions proved futile and as a result, the Spaniard will suffer severe consequences for applying a third control electronics and a fifth internal combustion engine, exceeding the season’s allotted power unit component consumption.

This means Sainz will start Sunday’s race ten positions down the grid.

Leave a Reply