Las Vegas Grand Prix – Carlos Sainz will take a ten place grid penalty for this weekend’s race after the Stewards weren’t able to give him a free pass.
Less than ten minutes into the opening practice in Las Vegas, Sainz hit a water valve cover which caused a “Stop the car” message on his steering wheel, and did significant damage to his car. The Spaniard stopped at the side of the track and the session was Red Flagged and then cancelled to allow inspections and repairs to the track in preparation for FP2.
“Following inspection,” the FIA explained, “it was the concrete frame around a manhole cover that has failed. We now need to check all of the other manhole covers which will take some time – we will be discussing with the local circuit engineering team about the length of time it will take to resolve and will update with any resultant changes to the schedule.”
Repairs and preventative work was then carried out over the next five hours before FP2 got underway at 2:30am local time, two and a half hours later than originally scheduled.
In the team principal’s press conference which took place between sessions, Ferrari’s Fred Vasseur was very unhappy and reported that Sainz’ monocoque, engine and battery were completely damaged.
The team petitioned the Stewards for a derogation to the regulations so they could replace the battery without penalty however the Stewards were unable to to find a way to do so within the rules.
The decision read: “…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 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.”
Sainz was then handed a ten place grid penalty for the Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver wasn’t the only one to have a damaged car as Esteban Ocon also hit the drain cover and debris on his inlap and Alpine had to replace his chassis before FP2.