Carlos Sainz says the five-second time penalty that he received at the Australian Grand Prix was the “most unfair penalty” he’s ever seen.
Sainz was running in fourth place towards the end of the race when Haas’ Kevin Magnussen hit the wall, which threw debris across the track.
Race Control opted to call a red flag to clear the debris, and at the restart, Sainz had contact with compatriot Fernando Alonso.
It was one of several incidents that occurred at the restart, which caused Race Control to deploy another red flag – the third of the day after a crash for Alexander Albon early in the race resulted in a suspension.
The Stewards deemed that Sainz was at fault for the contact and issued him a five-second time penalty.
As the race resumed for one lap behind the Safety Car, Sainz tumbled down the order and out of the points.
“I think it is the most unfair penalty I’ve seen in my life, so before talking to you and saying really bad stuff, bad words, I prefer to go back to the stewards and have a conversation with them,” he said after race.
“Then maybe I can come back and talk to the media because now I cannot honestly do it. I think it’s too unfair and I don’t feel well to speak now. I’ll try to come back later.”
The Stewards explained that Alonso was “significantly ahead” of Sainz and that the latter could’ve done more to avoid contact.
“We determined that Car 55 [Sainz] was wholly to blame for the collision,” its statement read. “Car 14 [Alonso] was significantly ahead of Car 55 at the first corner and nevertheless Car 55 drove into Car 14, causing it to spin and leave the track.
“We accordingly imposed a 5-second penalty on Car 55. For avoidance of doubt, we took into account the fact that this collision took place at the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the Stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.
“However, in this particular case, notwithstanding the fact that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for Car 55 to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.”
Sainz’s frustration was evident in the moments after he was told he had the penalty.
Over the team radio, he exclaimed: “It’s unacceptable. No! It’s not acceptable, tell them. It’s unacceptable, they need to wait until the race is finished but discuss it with me.
“Please, please, please just wait and discuss it with me. Clearly the penalty is not deserved, it’s too severe.”
Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc also failed to score points after retiring on the opening lap of the race.