Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver got a penalty that made him furious at the end of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix due to the fact that the FIA stewards believed the Spaniard had sufficient opportunity to avoid the collision with the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, even if the former Ferrari driver himself admitted after the race that the penalty was “too harsh”.
The Spaniard finished after a great recovery drive, but was dropped from outside the top ten and therefore did not score any points at the Albert Park circuit following a messy Melbourne event which was completed behind a safety car, as a result of a five-second penalty which he described the most unfair he has ever seen.
The Ferrari man made contact with the Aston Martin at the last Australian Grand Prix standing restart which was marked by many big errors as all drivers were aware they had one big final chance to gain places despite the cold tyres with just two laps until the end of the race in Melbourne.
The incident seemed to have cost Fernando Alonso a podium finish with the Spaniard spinning and returning on the track in the last place, but he was given back the position as a result of a red flag immediately being shown and the positions were reset for the very final restart which ended the Australian Grand Prix behind the safety car.
The stewards, however, felt Carlos Sainz should be penalised due to the collision, regardless of Fernando Alonso’s final outcome. They considered that the Ferrari man was “wholly to blame” for the incident despite Fernando Alonso being “significantly” ahead at the turn, Carlos Sainz took too much speed in and “drove into” the Aston Martin on the exit.
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The stewards pointed out the fact that they did take into consideration this happened at the first lap of the restart and 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.” – the stewards explained in the document released to the press.
Fernando Alonso himself wanted to defend Carlos Sainz at the end of the race and confirmed that the penalty was in fact “too harsh” with the incident being seen as just a racing moment:
“Obviously, I didn’t know who touched me in that moment, I just felt [it],” Fernando Alonso explained at the end of the Australian Grand Prix – “In lap one of the first start, someone touched me in Turn 3 and then in the last restart Carlos apparently touched me in Turn 1. Probably only [in] Jeddah I had the normal start, in Bahrain also in Turn 4 Lance touched me into Turn 4 so, yeah, I’m very attractive out there. But our car is strong enough, so it doesn’t matter if they keep touching us. Probably the penalty is too harsh because on lap one it is very difficult always to judge what the grip level is and I think we don’t go intentionally into another car because we know that we risk also our car and our final position. So sometimes you ended up in places that you wish you were not there in that moment. And it’s just part of racing. I didn’t see the replay properly, but for me it feels too harsh.” – the former Ferrari driver concluded.