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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

Sainz gets F1 Las Vegas GP grid penalty after track manhole cover incident

Carlos Sainz will get a grid penalty for the Las Vegas Grand Prix because FIA regulations do not allow for “mitigating, unusual and unfortunate circumstances” after the Ferrari Formula 1 car hit a manhole cover.

Marshals load the damaged car of Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, onto a truck

The first F1 race weekend on the famous Strip has been blindsided after Esteban Ocon ran over a water valve cover, with his Alpine lifting it proud of the resurfaced asphalt. His Alpine sustained damage and a yellow flag was waved but Sainz still clattered over the loose cover.

Ferrari has been forced to replace the survival cell, internal combustion engine, energy store and control electronics which were “damaged beyond repair following an impact with a foreign object.”

The incident meant FP1 was red-flagged after eight minutes and then eventually abandoned, while FP2 was postponed by two and a half hours as the 30 water valve covers around the circuit were inspected and fixed in place.

The FIA stewards have acknowledged that the extreme circumstances should leave Sainz to take the new parts from outside his allocated pool of spares without a penalty. But the rules do not allow for this.

They note: “Having received a request from [Ferrari] requesting a derogation of the Sporting Regulations in order to allow a replacement of the Energy Store from outside the pool, without penalty; and having heard from the team representative, the Director FIA Single Seater Department [Nikolas Tombazis], having viewed video evidence and examined the Team’s declaration sheet, the stewards, determine that notwithstanding the fact that the damage was caused by highly unusual external circumstances, Article 2.1 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations obliges all officials, including the Stewards, to apply the regulations as they are written.

“Accordingly, the mandatory penalty specified under Article 28.3 of the Sporting Regulations must be applied.

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari

“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.”

Sources suggest that the stewards spent over two hours looking for a way for the Ferrari driver to avoid a penalty.

But this was to no avail, so the Spaniard will be heavily penalised for exceeding the power unit component allocation for the season by taking a fifth internal combustion engine and third control electronics.

He will lose 10 places on the grid in Sunday's race.

Sainz and Ocon are due to take part in FP2 owing to a quirk in the regulations.

Article 31.4 of the Sporting Regulations states that cars which have undergone a change in survival cell after initial scrutineering must complete a new declaration to be approved by the technical delegate.

However, any car may not be used until the following day. Courtesy of the night-time schedule for the Las Vegas GP, FP2 takes place after midnight, permitting the duo to run again.

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