Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur has confirmed he will hold discussions with the Las Vegas Grand Prix over compensation for Carlos Sainz’s FP1 incident.
The opening practice hour at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit was halted after eight minutes when Sainz ran over a loose water valve cover and suffered extensive damage to his car. Ferrari was forced to change the chassis, power unit and battery on his SF-23.
When asked post-race if Ferrari would seek a settlement for the episode, Vasseur said: “This will be a private discussion that I will have with the stakeholders of this [event].”
A similar situation occurred in Malaysia in 2017 when Haas successfully struck a financial agreement after Romain Grosjean was pitched into a spin by a drain cover.
Vasseur established that Ferrari “can’t repair the chassis”, with the team back at its Maranello base already in the process of assembling a new one for the Abu Dhabi GP.
The Frenchman also revealed that the whole process will have a profound impact on Ferrari’s budget cap spending this year.
“So far it is included in the cap, there is no provision into the cost cap excluding the crashes,” Vasseur disclosed. “For sure you have a lot of extra costs. The loom was damaged, the gearbox was damaged, the battery was damaged, the engine is dead.
“For sure we have a lot of consequences on the financial side, on the sporting side and on the stock of spare parts and on the budget side for sure, it’s not an easy one.”
Asked how easy it will be to adjust the budget cap, Vasseur answered: “You can see the pros and the cons of this is that we won’t be able to rebuild everything at all because the next one [race] is next week. No way to build up a new monocoque for example.
“But it’s true also that if we have to adjust the budget cap, our whole cost, at least between now and the end of the season, we don’t have so much room to play with, or we miss Abu Dhabi.”
The crash has prompted Vasseur to suggest that he intends to hold talks over future incidents of a similar nature outside of a team’s control being removed from the cap.
He added: “There will be discussion. The decision, it’s another thing.”
Aside from the financial implications, the circumstances also hampered Ferrari on the track as Sainz had to exceed his yearly allocation of two Energy Store components.
Ferrari’s dispensation request to the FIA was turned down, demoting Sainz from the front row to 12th and leaving team-mate Charles Leclerc on his own at the front of the field.
“I think it was not a very fair decision due to the circumstance,” Vasseur underlined. “I think that it was very harsh for Carlos, very harsh for the team.
“It’s not an easy one because that but it’s not an easy one to give a set of tyres or to give an engine because it’s a gain of performance. But battery, there is no performance in the battery.
“Considering that we miss FP1, that we had a couple of millions of damage, that we had the mechanics worked like hell to come back. And so I think it was not too stupid to consider the case of force majeure.”
Vasseur also took concern with the marshals on the scene initially waving yellow flags after identifying the loose cover but waiting a minute to stop the session, by which point Sainz had already come to an abrupt stop.
Esteban Ocon also incurred damage down the same stretch of the new circuit, resulting in his Alpine car requiring a complete chassis change before FP2 got underway.
“We will have to discuss about the circumstances of the incident also because it’s not just about the cover coming out,” he noted.
“It’s also for me that we had one minute between the yellow flag and the red flag. It means that they saw something on the track and it took one minute before they put the red flag.”
Expanding on his complaints, Vasseur said: “The main issue for me on this case is that when you put the yellow flag, the first yellow flag, it means that you saw something.
“You don’t put the yellow flag by anticipation. It means that the guy who put the yellow flag and put the yellow flag also on my board, which is coming from the race control, it means that they saw something and then took one minute before to put the right flag when it’s a straight line and you have a metallic part and you are at 340 kph.”
Pressed on whether the teams were informed there was something on the track, Vasseur replied: “No, no they didn’t.”