McLaren take third in championship as stewards clear Sainz over slowing in pits · RaceFans

by Dec 13, 20200 comments

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McLaren have learned they will finish third in the constructors championship following the stewards’ ruling on an investigation concerning Carlos Sainz Jnr.

The team’s cars finished fifth and sixth in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sainz following Lando Norris home. With Racing Point scoring just one point with Lance Stroll, after Sergio Perez retired, McLaren had scored enough points to overhaul their rivals for third place in the constructors’ championship.

However the stewards announced during the race Sainz was under investigation for slowing excessively when he came into the pits. Had he been given a severe penalty, he could have fallen low enough in the finishing order for Racing Point to move ahead of McLaren in the championship.

Sainz came into the pits behind Norris and ahead of Stroll, whose team alleged the McLaren driver drove too slowly, despite Stroll saying the delay “didn’t really cost us much”.

Racing Point claimed Stroll lost time behind Sainz

“He [slowed] and you’re not allowed to do that,” said Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer on during the race Sky. “He went slowly so they could stack them. And what it cost was Lance getting out ahead of him. And now it’s completely changed the race and you’re not allowed to do that.”

Following the race the stewards ruled Sainz did drive slightly below the speed limit, but only for a brief amount of time, and it made a negligible difference. They therefore took no action against the driver.

“Car 55 [Sainz] was advised by its team, that it was 2.4 seconds in front of car 18 Stroll] approaching the Pit Entry,” they explained. “There was no instruction by the Team to slow down.

“On approaching the start of the pit lane car 55 accelerated then as per normal practice, braked briefly to less than 80 km/h just prior to the line and then accelerated up to 80. This was exactly the same as car five [Sebastian Vettel]. (Car 18 also braked to below 80 prior to the line then accelerated up to 80 as it crossed the line).

“Within the pit lane, car 55 was at 80 kph for all but approximately five seconds when it dropped to no less than 70 kph. We estimate this resulted in car 55 arriving at the pit stop around 0.6 second later than if it had maintained a speed of 80 kph.

“Therefore, we are not of the view that this action in any way resulted in the team avoiding a “double stack” situation as car five was well clear of the pit stop at this time. We also accept the explanation of the driver of car 55 that he was exercising a degree of caution as video evidence confirms the presence of a lot of other teams’ personnel in the pit lane at the time.

“Car 18 was able to maintain a speed of 80 kph in the pit lane except for a very short period of time (approximately 1 second) and therefore we do not consider that it was materially impacted by the actions of the driver of car 55.

“We also checked the relative speeds of the cars after leaving their pit stops and can see no evidence of car 55 driving unnecessarily slowly.”

Although the incident happened early in the race, the stewards did not issue their verdict until afterwards. “Normally the stewards prefer to take decisions of this nature during the race however in this case the necessary telemetry was only available shortly before the finish,” they explained.

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Sainz’s team radio when he pitted

To Sainz Carlos we’re boxing this lap.
To Sainz It will be a double shuffle.
Sainz Carlos pit lane.
To Sainz Leave the launch map on.
To Sainz Launch map, launch map, launch map.
To Sainz Could be close to Vettel ahead so use overtake.

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