Carlos Sainz will have a ten-place grid penalty for the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix after a loose drain cover wrecked his Ferrari and forced the cancellation of Thursday’s opening FP1 session on the street track.
Race stewards turned down the Italian team’s request for penalty-free repairs because they said they were obliged to apply the regulations as written “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.”
The governing FIA’s technical delegate reported that the Ferrari’s survival cell, engine, energy store and control electronics were all damaged beyond repair.
Drivers are allowed two energy stores for the season and Spaniard Sainz will now be on his third, triggering an automatic 10-place penalty.
Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur said the incident was “unacceptable” adding, “I think it’s tough for a team to arrive in Vegas and to have this kind of incident.”
The first practice lasted only eight minutes before Sainz’s Ferrari hit the drain cover in a storm of sparks. A second session eventually started at 0230 local time on Friday after safety checks.
Even rival McLaren boss Zak Brown sympathised with Ferrari and said he would have supported a waiver: “You’ve got to say that’s force majeure, that’s nothing of their own doing. A very unfortunate and unique incident. I was a bit surprised to see that.
“I think we need to be a bit more supportive if something like that happens. I would support them not getting a penalty,” he told Sky Sports television. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)