Ex-Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer says that he understands Carlos Sainz’s frustration following the Australian Grand Prix after he was awarded a costly five-second time penalty.
At a late-race red flag restart, Sainz made contact with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso who went spiralling down the order from third place.
The race was red flagged again amid several other incidents that occurred at the same time, with the order then reinstated to how it was before the restart chaos, minus the retired cars.
However, Sainz was still issued a five-second time penalty for the incident, and toppled out of the points as the race finished behind the Safety Car.
The Ferrari driver said after the race that it was the “most unfair penalty I’ve seen in my life”, while even Alonso admitted that the punishment was harsh.
But Palmer says that the FIA couldn’t simply ignore the fact that the crash occurred.
“I can understand Carlos’ frustration and disappointment, because the fact that the race finished under the Safety Car meant that his five-second penalty knocked him from fourth all the way out of the points,” he wrote in his column for Formula1.com.
“On that front it was a very harsh penalty, when the five seconds is actually supposed to be one of the more lenient penalties the stewards have available to them.
“But my sympathy for Sainz only runs that far in this situation. Fundamentally he went in too deep into the first corner, playing dare on the brakes with the Alpine of Pierre Gasly on his outside.
“It was a game that both of them ended up losing as Sainz tipped his compatriot Fernando Alonso into the barriers, whilst Gasly went grass tracking and re-joined into his own team mates’ path, ending the race of both Alpine drivers.
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“Whilst the grid was reset and Alonso managed to recover to take third place at the flag, you can’t ignore the fact that all of the incidents happened, which resulted in yet another red flag, and they were duly investigated as per usual procedure.”
Sainz’s brought up the fact that the stewards have often been more lenient when dealing with “lap one” incidents in the past.
But this isn’t always been the case, especially in recent F1 memory, as Palmer argued.
“Occasionally in the past, drivers have been given more leeway for opening lap incidents for clashes that are generally more debatable,” Palmer continued.
“Mostly in the last couple of years that hasn’t applied, as shown by George Russell’s identical penalty for tipping Sainz into a spin in Austin last year – a similar incident with a similar initial outcome.
“It was a shame for Carlos because he had actually had a very good drive in the Ferrari until that point.”